Academic journal article The Mailer Review

Remembering Norris Church

Academic journal article The Mailer Review

Remembering Norris Church

Article excerpt

NORRIS CAME ALONG LATE IN MY LIFE, but she represented the kind of person I've known about for most of my life. She was that tough Southern girl that is often cloaked in the sunshine of beauty and affability. She could change a tire on the highway at three in the morning, I bet, as well as strut down a runway in a beauty parade. She knew how to bat her eyes. What drew my everlasting admiration to her, though, was that she knew where she came from, who she was, and most impressively had an instinctive sympathy for those from a hard scrapple background or from a similar inherited place where one has to fight for every inch of ground to get ahead. In her journey she kept inside her what Hemingway so apply called "a built-in shit detector" She was nobody's fool. She'd give until there was no more to give but no one was ever going to walk over her.

I come from the hills of East Tennessee and that fact, and all it means, never leaves me for a second (although I try at times.) Norris of course came from the Ozarks. We met at a small get together in an apartment that Mike Lennon and his wife Donna were briefly ensconced in Lower Manhattan. I remember the moment as if it were last night. She was seated on a lounge chair, long legs crossed lady-like, eyes raised shyly, as her husband Norman Mailer sat in great bonhomie and authority a short distance away, showing some stiffness of legs and not able to spring up as of yore. Conversation swirled around gossip, drinks, and possibly politics. Before long, though, Norris and I began the necessary. We had to trade facts to gauge how hillbilly Southern we were, a ritual similar to Armenians far from home who must share their bona fides to set the record straight. We talked about fried chicken, biscuits and gravy, fat back and green beans. We tested each other on Baptist hymns, sang a good one together (very quietly) and shared the info that we both had been submerged in baptism. Not many you meet in a literary gathering in the Big Apple have "gone under" in such a ritual at puberty. …

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.