Academic journal article The Mailer Review

The Writer's Daughter

Academic journal article The Mailer Review

The Writer's Daughter

Article excerpt

It has been a great pleasure to bring another member of the Mailer family to the Norman Mailer Society. We always have Mailers at our meetings. Over the past few years, as you know, we've been asking a different family member to come every year. This will keep going for a long time, we hope. By the time we're done, we can begin again. This year our speaker, like her father, is an artist, and she has been an artist for longer than any of her other siblings. I believe that's the case. Isn't it, Danielle? Yes. She's been a painter and a sculptor for decades, although if you look at her, you can see she looks to be about twenty-eight. For many years, whenever she was recognized in the art community--and she's been recognized many times, articles in Art Forum and a lot of other art magazines--invariably, her father's name would be mentioned. You know how the journalistic mind works. The first paragraph had an obligatory sentence saying that Danielle Mailer was the daughter of the literary lion, Norman Mailer. And then there'd be mention of his Pulitzer-Prize winning books and so forth. But over the last few years this has changed because of her many exhibitions, and other achievements, including major commissions--outdoor sculptures for museums and libraries. She just had an exhibit outside the New York Public Library. Her ship has come in, and she has reached a plateau of eminence; people in the art world know who she is and talk about her all the time.

I should add that Danielle is not just a visual artist, as I learned several years ago after her father's death when she wrote something about him. She's also a verbal artist. She chose to go into painting and sculpture, but she could very well have been a writer. It is with great pleasure that I ask you to welcome Danielle Mailer.

Keynote Introduction by J. Michael Lennon

DANIELLE: In honor of Norman, I would like to begin by uttering the words my father often used when first addressing his audience: "Can you hear me in the back?"

I have given my share of talks by now and some are more successful than others. I certainly don't have my father's polish. The good news, however, is that I'm certain that he's up there micro-managing this talk today. So we need not worry.

This has been the most extraordinary weekend. He has come back to me with such clarity through the panels, the reading, and the lectures. I feel his presence quite strongly today. And of course, I have to credit Wilkes University and the Norman Mailer Society for making this happen. Bonnie and David Light and now Sean, who's working the slideshow, have taken such good care of us, and I'm grateful for that. I have to say that I am actually sleeping better now knowing that these brilliant scholars, who are part of the Norman Mailer Society, are heavily strategizing about how to keep Norman's literary voice alive and well. Thank you for all of this!

At the end of my father's life, he talked much about the importance of family, and his worry that when he was gone, we, his children, would not remain close. So much so that in his last days while he was still able to talk, just before they put the feeding tube in, he said to me, with surprising strength "Listen, honey, this family is a tapestry. You've got to make sure you all remain tight, and don't ever let that tapestry unravel."

With his passing and then Norris just two years later, we all felt a bit unmoored. There were two people that really helped us tremendously in this process of getting our equilibrium back and that would be Mike and Donna Lennon. They are beloved friends, really more like family members, and we go back now some forty years. I first met them when I was a teenager in Mount Desert Island, Maine. Mike had recently made my father's acquaintance and was teaching Mailer at the University of Illinois. Dad had extended an invite and so they made the trip up to Maine with their three boys, who were babies then. …

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