Academic journal article The Mailer Review

Why Mailer and Jones Matter

Academic journal article The Mailer Review

Why Mailer and Jones Matter

Article excerpt

The following panel and discussion, moderated by Barry H. Leeds, took place on November 11, 2011, in the Prothro Theatre of the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, Austin, during the joint conference of the James Jones and Norman Mailer Societies.

Barry Leeds: My name is Barry Leeds, and I'd like to welcome you to "Why Mailer and Jones Matter" with an elite blue-ribbon committee of scholars here, each of whom is going to speak for about five minutes. Then we're going to throw the discussion open to the audience, and we would like everyone to have a chance to say something. The first speaker today is Warren Mason, who's a professor of corporate and professional communication in both the college of business administration and the department of communication studies at Plymouth State University where he teaches both undergraduate and graduate students. Dr. Mason received the Distinguished Graduate Teaching Award in Business in 2003. He's also a member of the interdisciplinary honor society Phi Kappa Phi. He's been an investment representative, a principal in the hotel/restaurant industry, an advertisement and promotion manager for banking institutions, and he's a member of the Public Relations Society of America. He regularly advises profit and nonprofit organizations on public relations and media issues, and sits on the board of directors of the James Jones Literary Society. Warren.

Warren Mason: Thank you, Barry.

Walt Whitman wrote "The real war would never get in the books." And James Jones himself, before he wrote The Thin Red Line, said "I don't think that combat has ever been written about truthfully." Well, we sit here today knowing these statements aren't correct, with the half-century-plus existence of The Naked and the Dead and The Thin Red Line. Mailer's war novel, The Naked and the Dead, and Jones' trilogy, Eternity, Line, and Whistle, plus The Pistol--which I've always called the 3-plus-1--represent what Willie Morris stated about Jones's work as, "The literature of World War II that future generations of Americans will read--even 500 years from now." Yet neither author was a one-hit novel author, although Jones has sometimes been accused of such, or a one-theme author--WAR, again a charge often flung at Jones but refuted by, if nothing else, Some Came Running.

This always makes me think of these guys coming back from the war, how they were all vying for writing "The Great American Novel." I had the opportunity to interview Gore Vidal when he was a Montgomery Fellow at Dartmouth in my state of New Hampshire, and he wasn't really interested in giving an interview, but I told him it was about Jones through an associate, another public relations guy, and he perked right up and said, "Oh, if you want to talk about Jones come on over." So I did, you know, a delightful afternoon, his partner Austin was still alive at the time. (And by the way when Vidal says he doesn't want to talk about himself, he wants to talk about Jones, that really means he wants to talk about himself!) The brief version is that he liked James Jones very much. He called him "Jimmy" Jones; I never heard James Jones called "Jimmy" before, and he said, "You know, out of all of us after the war, particularly in Paris"--and most people associate Vidal with Rome, but he also spent a lot of time in Paris--he said, "Jones was the most decent," and he added, "he was the most generous." Jones was a notorious soft-touch for helping beginning writers, as most of us know. Vidal said he really "couldn't read most of Jones's stuff" but he admitted that From Here to Eternity was a great book, and he did mention Mailer's The Naked and the Dead. But then, Vidal paused and said, "But you know, I was a war author too, and I was first." And, right, we don't normally associate Vidal with World War II, I mean anything but, but it's true. He got back early because he had severe frostbite. He was up in the Aleutian campaign, he wrote Williwaw, and technically speaking, it was the first major World War II novel, after the war. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.