Academic journal article The Mailer Review

People Who Look Alike Are Alike

Academic journal article The Mailer Review

People Who Look Alike Are Alike

Article excerpt

Kate Mailer, daughter of Norman Mailer, gave this keynote address on October 3, 2015 in Provincetown at the Thirteenth Annual Conference of The Norman Mailer Society. 

HELLO, MY NAME IS KATE. KATE MAILER. GOOD AFTERNOON. Just to get you all oriented, well, you probably all know this already, as I am sure you are all very familiar with the all the details, but I'll just go over it anyway, even if it is just to remind myself. I am the 4th daughter as well as the 4th child of the third wife of Norman Mailer. First, there was Bea, Wife #1, who had Sue, then there was Adele, Wife #2, who had Danielle and Betsy, and then there was Jeannie, the British wife, Wife #3 who had me.

Now, let me be totally honest with you all. When Mike--Mike Lennon, that is, not Mike Mailer, invited me to do this, I just thought, and said, Oh, no, no no no no no. I can't do that, Mike. I don't have anything to add, Mike, to what you and all of your esteemed fellow Norman Mailer Society friends and colleagues know and have studied and read and pondered and expressed vis a vis Dad.

But Mike was adamant. "All of the kids have to speak at the Norman Mailer Society conference. The kids give a different perspective, which is vital to the whole picture. It is very important for you to do this, and besides, Kate, it is your turn."

You see, Sue had gone, and Danielle had gone, Betsy had gone, oops, I mean Elizabeth, Elizabeth had gone, even Stephen had gone--way out of turn, I might add, and I think Mike--Mike Mailer that is, not Mike Lennon, had gone, also out of turn too--oh, and, ugh, oh, God, John had gone too, Johnnie, the baby. As a matter of fact all the boys, save one, Matthew, had gone--in fact the boys had gone first, before the girls, (of course the boys had gone first, it is the Norman Mailer society after all, so of course most the boys had gone first). All out of turn. So it is just me, Maggie and Matthew left of the offspring to go, and I am the oldest of those, so it was definitely my turn, no getting out of it this time. But I still did not feel qualified and I am still resistant and have a deep inferiority complex about it all, just so you know!

I mean, I have to make a confession, I have not read all of his books, ok?--I mean I have read some, and I really, really liked them and I thought they were really really good, and super deep, but I have not read them all. Ok? And then, in hearing some of these talks here by you people, I said to my aunt and my sisters last night, "You know, I just have begun to feel like, hey, I wish I had never heard of Norman Mailer and just happened to pick up one of his many many books and had an amazing mystical spiritual creatively inspiring experience like you all did instead of just being his darn 4th daughter.

Plus, I did not even meet the guy till I was like four almost five--but more on that later--that is a whole story. Finally, encouraged by my sisters who said you were all really nice and interested and supportive people, which has been confirmed by all these wonderful incredibly informative panels. I mean for example, who knew about those Lipton journals? I am getting myself a copy of that! I thought, oh what the hell. I mean Dad and I had our differences and our conflicts but it might be kind of nice to revisit that whole thing, the Thing of my Father, and who he was to me. And so, I have found that in thinking about what to say, I have had the chance to ponder some of Dad's, well, shall we call them, theories and views on the importance of criticism and superstition in relationship to parenting. Then, how that affected our relationship as a father and daughter. So I thought I would tell some stories in that vein and how partly because of these theories of his, we often misunderstood, but then, on the other hand, at times, very much understood each other.

Now let me say this, first. All of Dad's children look a lot like him. I think so anyway, and I am no exception. …

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