Academic journal article The Mailer Review

A Grasshopper's Lament

Academic journal article The Mailer Review

A Grasshopper's Lament

Article excerpt

WHAT HAPPENS TO A GRASSHOPPER When his master dies?

I can't speak for all grasshoppers but when my master died someone asked me to write a tribute.

At first I refused because so many other grasshoppers had been physically closer to him than I. Norman Mailer and I were pen pals for thirty-six years, from 1971 to 2007. Only then was I invited to the manor. Did I have the right to write a tribute in a literary journal devoted to him?

But then a light flickered in the gloomy grottoes of my gutted green grasshopper's mind--(forgive me that indulgence. I couldn't resist.)-and I thought to myself,

"Asking me to write a tribute is not without reason, though there must have been ten thousand grasshoppers who also studied at the Master's feet and who also aspired to become masterful writers.

"Nevertheless, there is only one grasshopper today that has the courage to take a truly awful and over-used metaphor like 'grasshopper' and carry it this far without embarrassment-and that grasshopper is me. Only this grasshopper could deliberately be that bad.

"And who but me would have the courage to write, 'gloomy grottoes of my gutted green grasshopper's mind'? Mailer would be proud! Not of my ability but of my utter gall. Who but this grasshopper would have the brass it takes to intentionally make his readers go 'awwwwww ...?'

"Who but I--and Norman Mailer!"

At this point I am going to stop being silly and tell you how huge was Norman Mailer's heart. …

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