Academic journal article The Mailer Review

Fellow Geniuses

Academic journal article The Mailer Review

Fellow Geniuses

Article excerpt

I WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH YOU a seminal work of nonfiction by my father: until now, a hidden literary gem, and one that helped me get started in my career as an artist.

I was fifteen, spending the summer in Provincetown with my father, Norris, and my eight siblings. Privacy was scarce, but somehow, a two-week stretch emerged in which I had my own room.

As an only child living with my mother the rest of the year, I was well equipped psychologically to spread out. I decided to tackle a sculpture that I'd been thinking about for some time. As any serious contemplative will do, I began by collecting driftwood. Soon, buckets of sand, and seaweed appeared on the floor. The carpeted floor.

From the Army Navy store in town came more buckets, filled with brass buttons and machine gun bullets, rusted ones, which looked to me like beads for a necklace.

All the while, in my artistic fervor, clothes and wet bathing suits and towels were strewn across the room. I think, subconsciously, I was recreating scenes from The Naked and the Dead. Even though, I hadn't read it yet.

At fifteen I was still too shy to speak easily with my father. Days might pass without conversing, but we would always exchange meaningful looks. We were both absorbed in our work, and I felt we shared the unspoken understanding of artists. …

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