Academic journal article The Mailer Review

A Summer to Remember

Academic journal article The Mailer Review

A Summer to Remember

Article excerpt

I REMEMBER THE SUMMER NORRIS WAS INTRODUCED TO THE FAMILY. It was the year of 1976 and as usual we were congregating en masse up at Fortune Rock, the house my dad rented every Summer in Mount Desert, Maine. August was always a special month in the Mailer family as it was the only extended period of time where we lived under the same roof. They were good times and, despite our occasional mini flare-ups, we cohered well under the direction of our paterfamilias.

However, this particular Summer we had new blood introduced into the family unit: Barbara Norris. I had met my future stepmother the winter before up in Provincetown. She was introduced to Stephen and me over a dinner at the restaurant Ciro's as my dad's secretary's best friend. Even at the naive age of ten I knew somehow the story lacked the ring of credibility, but I was immediately charmed by her and did my best to show her the very best of my limited table manners by using a fork and knife and occasionally wiping the spaghetti sauce off of my chin.

But it wasn't till the following August that I got to know Norris well. Into the maelstrom of seven children she walked. I suppose we were something like the Von Trap family without the singing nanny and the fancy ironed uniforms. In fact, we were all a little rag tag, particularly the younger ones, including myself, and I vaguely recall going a few weeks the Summer before without brushing my teeth.

Looking back, becoming a "mother" to eight was no easy task but she made it seem effortless. Indeed it was as if she possessed some psychic compass that gave her an uncanny direction to find the point of interest that broke the ice for each and everyone of us. …

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