Academic journal article The Mailer Review

A Generous Man

Academic journal article The Mailer Review

A Generous Man

Article excerpt

IN ALL THE TRIBUTES TO NORMAN MAILER that I've read or heard since his death, one word that I have not seen used to describe him is "generous." But as I think back over the twenty-five years or so of our acquaintance, Norman's generosity was constantly in evidence. Admittedly, one of the reasons for this is probably that our interactions often consisted of my asking Norman to participate in some program or conference with which I was involved. But the fact is that, on virtually every occasion, he--and often Norris too--cheerfully accepted and in doing so more than once made me look extremely good in the eyes of my peers. And my ego is not so great that I think that I was unique in being the beneficiary of Norman's generosity.

The first of these occasions was one I had very little to do with, other than as a spectator--but it was typical of those to follow. In the mid-1980s, I believe it was, the nascent PEN/Faulkner Foundation had recently moved from Charlottesville, Virginia, to Washington, DC, and was trying to establish its presence in a city that was then far more hospitable to politics than literature. Norman agreed to read (for no stipend) and sign books with Robert Stone at a special Saturday night PEN/Faulkner fund-raising event at the St. Alban's School in Northwest DC. That event, more than perhaps any other, launched PEN/Faulkner as a significant presence in Washington.

In subsequent years, Norman participated (always without a fee) in PEN/ Faulkner's reading series and in our annual fund-raising Gala. And he and Norris and George Plimpton did both their Ernest Hemingway/F. …

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