The Mailer Review

Articles from Vol. 2, No. 1, Fall

1972: Norman Mailer Parties with Offbeat Tampans
IT WAS A CHILLY FEBRUARY EVENING IN TAMPA and the perfume of the citrus trees was almost oppressive. The numbers of cars parked on both sides of the house stretched down the block and beyond the house. There was one helluva party going on at the...
A 25th Anniversary Toast
ON THE MORNING OF SUNDAY, APRIL 10, 1983, an assistant professor of political science who had snuck off to his office to get a little writing done, found himself too distracted by recollections of a wretchedly uncomprehending review of Ancient Evenings...
Above All, He Was Never Afraid
IN BRITAIN THE MANY APPRECIATIONS, tributes and obituaries that followed Norman Mailer's death were overwhelmingly generous in their acknowledgement of his life and creative gifts. They recognized how at its best his dissenting voice had challenged...
Acceptance Speech for National Book Foundation Award
IN THESE YEARS I AM FEELING the woeful emotions of an old carriage-maker as he watched the disappearance of his trade before the onrush of the automobile. The serious novel may soon be in danger of being adored with the same poignant concern we...
A Dialogue on Mailer's Novels
Mailer's nonfiction has been honored with praises and prizes. One might sensibly argue that it contributed to a revolution in the consciousness of his time. But his fiction is still a matter of vigorous debate, and the Mailer Question persists....
After Mailer: Some Recollections
I FIRST MET NORMAN MAILER at a party in New York. It was the early 1960s, I was a writer in my early 20s, mailer was somewhere close to 40. He brought me over to the couch and we sat talking for three hours until he finally stood up and said, "I'm...
A Generous Man
IN ALL THE TRIBUTES TO NORMAN MAILER that I've read or heard since his death, one word that I have not seen used to describe him is "generous." But as I think back over the twenty-five years or so of our acquaintance, Norman's generosity was constantly...
A Grasshopper's Lament
WHAT HAPPENS TO A GRASSHOPPER When his master dies? I can't speak for all grasshoppers but when my master died someone asked me to write a tribute. At first I refused because so many other grasshoppers had been physically closer to him than...
A Late Lunch
I want to salute my dear friend Norris Church Mailer and express my gratitude to her for asking me to speak today. I met Norman in late 1968 in New York when I was a movie critic and he was editing his film, Maidstone. I wanted an interview but...
A Long Friendship
IN A STOP TIME MARVELOUS MOMENT Norman's felt presence dominated the stage at the Carnegie Hall memorial to him. Yet afterward I felt in limbo. I missed mulling over the details of the evening with Norman, in the way, off and on, for many years...
A New Politics of Form in Harlot's Ghost
"The sour truth is that I am imprisoned with a perception which will settle for nothing less than making a revolution in the consciousness of our time" (Advertisements for Myself 17). "Please do not understand me too quickly." (Norman Mailer's...
A Night at Elaine's
I WAS THINKING THAT I MADE a terrible mistake in the twenty-five years I've known Norman, probably one of many, but the one I'm thinking of now is that I should have recorded everything he ever said to me. I want to share with you a night, I recall,...
Another Look at Norman Mailer, Fascinated with God and Religion
NORMAN MAILER HAS BROKEN HIS LAST TIES WITH TIME and made passage "Into the Mystery," the title he wanted to give to his latest book summarizing his fifty years of reflections on God. His publishers, seeking a counterpoint to a temporal market of...
A Tribute to Norman Mailer
WHILE WE ARE HERE TODAY TO CELEBRATE the life of a great literary giant, the irony of his life and the great affection he had for my husband does not go unnoticed. I had the personal pleasure of meeting Mr. Mailer for the first time when he visited...
Author, Auteur: A Conversation with Norman Mailer
IN MAY 2005, AT THE TIME THIS INTERVIEW WAS CONDUCTED, I Was working as the Program Director for Film at International House Philadelphia, a non-profit arts center immediately adjacent to the University of Pennsylvania. Earlier that year I had organized...
Blessings
AS A KID I WAS OFTEN ASKED, when someone recognized the last name, "Any relation to Norman?" "Yeah," I would reply. "Your Grandfather?" they would likely ask. "My father," I'd say. Then the real question would come; "What's that like? Having Norman...
Carnegie Hall Memorial
On April 9, 2008, approximately 2,400 family, friends and admirers gathered at Carnegie Hall for a three-hour tribute to Norman Mailer. The event was sponsored by Mailer's publisher of twenty-five years, Random House, and was hosted by Charlie Rose....
Channeling Norman Mailer
IN HONOR OF MY FATHER I'm first going to clear my throat. (He clears his throat) ... I forgot what I was going to say.... Good afternoon, thank you all for coming. My name is Stephen Mailer, I am the sixth child of my father, his second son. And...
Chronicler of the Century Did It All
I HAVE NEVER KNOWN A CONTEMPORARY WRITER Who was more famous and who seemed to be less affected by his fame than Norman Mailer. He was never part of a social class. Yes, he went to Harvard; yes, he was an intellectual, but he transcended that....
Entangled Minds: Forty Years of Encountering Norman Mailer
IN 2004 AT THE INAUGURAL MEETING IN NEW YORK of the Norman Mailer Society, J. Michael Lennon kindly introduced me as "an early Mailer scholar." Since few in Mailer circles had heard from me in twenty years, I was pleased to find that several people...
Exhuming Mailer's America
NORMAN MAILER, WHO MARCHED UNABASHED and unafraid through the 1960's American counterculture and assailed our literary senses throughout his life, is probably cursing in his grave-and, oh, what colorfully foul words he knew how to use. Given...
Fellow Geniuses
I WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH YOU a seminal work of nonfiction by my father: until now, a hidden literary gem, and one that helped me get started in my career as an artist. I was fifteen, spending the summer in Provincetown with my father, Norris,...
Fighters and Writers
"At Corinth two temples stood side by side, the temple of Violence and the temple of Necessity." --Albert Camus, "The Minotaur" (1939) A BANNER HANGING ON A WALL at Gleason's Gym testifies to boxing's enduring appeal for writers. The Brooklyn...
From a Novelist in Waiting
I FIRST MET NORMAN MAILER IN 1961. I was in Grade 7, and I loved to read war stories and novels. I picked up a paperback copy of The Naked and the Dead in a department store, and, after reading it, I decided I wanted to become a writer, just like...
From Monroe to Picasso: Norman Mailer and the Life-Study
1. "What I have to say about Picasso may not be so dull." (1) Readers of Norman Mailer's Portrait of Picasso as a Young Man: An Interpretive Biography (1995) are in the Preface directed to one of the book's main sources, Mailer's 1966 essay collection...
He Was a Fighter: Boxing in Norman Mailer's Life and Work
BOXING HAS PROVIDED A SIGNIFICANT MORAL PARADIGM throughout much of Norman Mailer's life and work. In his seminal essay entitled "Death" in The Presidential Papers (1963), Mailer uses the first Sonny Liston/Floyd Patterson championship bout as a...
Identity Crisis: A State of the Union Address by Norman Mailer and Kurt Vonnegut
NO TWO CONTEMPORARY WRITERS HAVE LOOKED HARDER or with greater analytical intelligence at the forces undermining the American Dream than Norman Mailer and Kurt Vonnegut. Whatever individual differences of vision or temperament may separate these...
In Memoriam
NORMAN MAILER VERY KINDLY SUPPLIED A FOREWORD to my Unholy Alliance. That foreword became part of his chapter on the occult in his book about writing, The Spooky Art. I had known Mailer over a period of almost thirty years, since the time he...
I See You
IT IS DAY 42 IN THE ICU at Mount Sinai Hospital. My father is a "7" out of "10" on the malnutrition scale, with starving children in Africa being a "5." Dad is thinner now than he was sixty years ago, when discharged with jaundice from the Army....
Jewish Values in the Fiction of Norman Mailer
IN THE PAST YEAR OR so as a result of the publication of The Castle in the Forest, Mailer has tackled his "Jewish question" in a way that brings him if not back to the "nice" Jewish boy image he eschewed many years ago at least to an acknowledgement...
Let Me Now Praise Famous Men
IT HAS ONLY HAPPENED TWICE IN MY LIFE: a famous writer to whom I reached out not only responded, but made me his friend and disciple. Both men I admired immensely long before we met. The first, in my teens and young manhood, was Rod Serling. The...
Living Mailer
THE DAY HAD ARRIVED FOR ME to tell my ex-wife that my fiance was pregnant. "Keep it up, Richard," she said. "You'll be just like Norman." I took it as a compliment, though I'm not sure that was what she intended. It occurred to me then,...
Losing My Voice
IN 1976 MY HUSBAND, MICHAEL, SAID THAT WE WERE INVITED to visit Norman Mailer in Maine that summer. We left our three young sons with my parents in Newport, Rhode Island, and drove up the coast road to Mt. Desert Island. I was 30 and nervous; for...
Mailer
THERE ARE PIVOTAL MOMENTS IN LIFE. We all have them. Many of mine revolve around Norman Mailer. We were never great buddies, or even buddies, but every time he made a cameo appearance in my life the experience became vividly recorded in my mind....
Mailer on the Eve of Ancient Evenings: A Memory in Six Parts
1 LATER, I REALIZED THAT I HAD MET A MAN LIVING IN THE HUSHES, as Emily Dickinson put it, "between the Heaves of Storm." One heave was the ten years spent writing his intended masterpiece, the other was the impending reception of that book. I...
Mailer Remembered
I HAD BEEN NORMAN'S EDITOR for only two weeks when he called me up one day in February 2003 and said he wanted to write a book explaining why the U.S. was going to invade Iraq. I said that made a lot of sense but by the time we published the ...
Meeting Mailer
IT WAS THE EARLY 19705. I Was living in Provincetown, Massachusetts, on a writing fellowship at the Fine Arts Work Center. Across Commercial Street, the narrow lane meandering through town, cater-cornered to the garret apartment where I lived, was...
My Friend, Norman
NO WRITER ON THE AMERICAN LITERARY SCENE could get people steamed up the way that the writer Norman Mailer, who died last Fall at the age of 84, could. While few questioned his skill and his name always elicited a certain kind of awe, it seems that...
Nobel Worthy Norman Mailer
IN THE DAYS BEFORE THE INTERNET, before e-malls, before cell phones, before fax machines--at least before the cheap accessibility to fax machines--when you wanted to send something quick and urgent you sent a telegram. Just remembering this makes...
Norman at the Table
WE ARE IN CARNEGIE HALL and we are celebrating a great man. And in that context, would you please make sure your cell phones are off. Or we'll ask Norman to think of something to make you sorry. Let me start this evening, this afternoon, evening,...
Norman Mailer: A Man of Letters Inspired by the People of the Book
THE NORMAN MAILER WHO DIED IN NEW YORK at the age Of 84, and whom I met in November 2006, was not the brash showman--arm-wrestling with Muhammad Ali, boxing with Jose Torres, hobnobbing with Jackie Onassis at a New York society dinner. This Mailer...
Norman Mailer: Ambush at the Center
The danger is palpable and the discovery of the new meaning may live in the ambush at the center of a primitive fire. --Cannibals and Christians Raymond Chandler said it best, I think: In everything that can be called art there is a quality...
Norman Mailer: A Memorial Gesture
I FIRST BECAME INTERESTED IN MAILER during the academic year Of 195657, when--as a British student of American Studies--I was spending a year at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, teaching Freshman English, taking a graduate course or two,...
Norman Mailer: A Prolific Life to the End
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] UPON HIS NOVEMBER 10, 2007 DEATH AT AGE 84, the provocative, prolific Norman Mailer left behind a huge body of work. The two-time Pulitzer winner published more than 3o novels, biographies and nonfiction works. The rights...
Norman Mailer: A Remembrance
NORMAN MAILER WAS THE WRITER Who made me want to be a writer. And when he died, I lost a friend of nearly twenty-seven years. The transformation of a hero into a friend with strengths and failings, and shared memories, is not always easy or natural,...
Norman Mailer: A Requiem
I HAD THE GOOD FORTUNE TO WORK WITH NORMAN on his play Strawhead (Marilyn, A Memory Play) at The Actors Studio in New York, his film Tough Guys Don't Dance, and recently a staged reading of his play The Deer Park, which I directed and performed...
Norman Mailer: A Warrior's Life
MY MOTHER, OSIE REMBAR, was Norman's older, first cousin and perhaps his earliest literary advocate and critic. They were fourteen years apart. From about 1936 to 1943, Norman spent summers at her family's hotel in Long Branch, where the staff was...
Norman Mailer, Baseball Man
IN FEBRUARY OF 2004 MY PARENTS HAD A RECEPTION AT our house for Norman Mailer, who was speaking at the University of South Florida. I had never met Mr. Mailer before the party, but felt that I knew a little about him since my Dad talked about him...
Norman Mailer Bibliography: 2007
ADDENDA through 2006 PRIMARY Letters Letter to the Editors. Copy of letter to Leonid I. Brezhnev, with other signatories. "Protest." New York Review of Books 10:5.14 Mar. 1968. Letter to the Editors, with other signatories. "Violence in...
Norman Mailer, First Editions: 1948-2007
1. The Naked and the Dead (New York: Rinehart, 1948), novel. 2. Barbary Shore (New York: Rinehart, 1951), novel. 3. The Deer Park (New York: Putnam, 1955), novel. 4. The White Negro: Superficial Reflections on the Hipster (San Francisco:...
[Norman Mailer, from Exit Ghost]
Then Norman Mailer. Overwhelming. I'd never seen Norman Mailer off the screen before. Guy's eighty now, both knees shot, walks with two canes, can't take a stride of more than six inches alone, but he refuses help going up to the pulpit, won't even...
Norman Mailer in "God's Attic"
THE POST-CLIMAX of Norman Mailer's An American Dream (1965) features Stephen Rojack (some might say the author's virtual alter ego) in the desert, outside Vegas, in a surreal phone booth, ideal for a celestial call to his dead lover, Cherry, now...
Norman Mailer: Miami and the Siege of Chicago
"I AM A' LEFT CONSERVATIVE:" That was Norman Mailer's jaunty but slightly defensive self-description when first I met him at the beginning of the 1980s. At the time, I was inclined to attribute this glibness (as I thought of it) to the triumph of...
Norman Mailer's Best Sellers
ON JUNE 20,1948, a Pacific war novel by a twenty-five-year-old combat veteran from Brooklyn reached the number one position on the New York Times best-seller list. It remained on the list for sixty-two consecutive weeks, nineteen of them in the...
Norman Mailer: Stupidity Brings out Violence in Me
WHAT CAN ONE SAY ABOUT NORMAN MAILER that he probably hasn't already said about himself? I grew up on Mailer. His great journalism in Esquire; his incredible gift of metaphor; his sure handedness when it came to writing about taboos, superstitions,...
Norman Mailer the Executioner's Song
GARY GILMORE ROBBED THE UNRESISTING SERVICE-STATION ATTENDANT, told him to lie down, and then shot him in the head. Twice, fast. The next day, Gilmore robbed the unresisting motel-manager, told him to lie down, and then shot him in the head. Once...
One More for the Road
WHILE HE WAS WRITING The Fight, his account of the epic boxing match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in Zaire, my uncle discovered a book of Bantu philosophy that excited him because it articulated an idea he had always held but never expressed...
On the Armies of the Night
I AM SIX YEARS OLDER THAN NORMAN MAILER when he wrote The Armies of the Night. In 1968, its year of publication, I was 10. I come to this book therefore from a position perhaps somewhat different from my colleagues here: I come to it looking for...
Our Duty
A CLOSE FRIEND OF MY FATHER'S and mine, Hans Janistchek, passed away in February. He was an international journalist of Austrian descent, loved by his peers and readers alike. He was there at my Father's funeral in Provincetown, and at one point,...
Oysters
DESPITE MY FATHER'S IMPATIENCE with the language of pop culture, I would venture, albeit timidly, to call him, a "Foodie." From his pot roast fixation to his jelly omelet, his tastes were nothing if not eccentric. His love for Hershey's chocolate,...
Q&A in 1984 with Norman Mailer
ONE DAY IN 1984 when I was working for a moving company, I rushed to finish the job because that night Norman Mailer would speak in Providence, Rhode Island, at Brown University. I had to rush it, so I showed up in my boots and sans shower. "I am...
Reading Mailer in Brooklyn
IN 1994,1 HAD BEEN FREELANCING FOR RANDOM HOUSE for a few years when Jason Epstein decided that I would be the right copy editor for Norman Mailer's next book, Oswald's Tale. (1) Epstein was known in the industry as the most demanding and least...
Reflections
THE PHONE RANG EARLY MORNING on Saturday, November 10, 2007. It was Mike Lennon, long-time Mailer friend and authorized Mailer biographer. "Phil, Norman has died." I had readied myself for this news for several weeks, but the shock and sadness were...
Remembering Norman Mailer
GOOD AFTERNOON. On behalf of Random House and the Mailer family, I welcome you to "The Time of His Time: A Celebration of the Life of Norman Mailer." I am Gina Centrello, President and Publisher of Random House. Random House was Norman's publisher...
Shadow Boxing with Pop
I WAS BORN ON SAINT PATRICK'S DAY and my father had a dream that when I turned six years old I would walk into the toughest Irish bar in town and say in my finest brogue: "My name is Michael Mailer, I'm six years old and I can lick any man in the...
Tapestry
A COUPLE OF MONTHS BEFORE DAD DIED, my husband and I went to Provincetown to visit him. The morning we left I went up to his bedroom to say goodbye. He looked at me with his very blue eyes and said "Susie, our family is a fine tapestry, you must...
The Bishop and Norman Mailer
WHEN I VISITED BISHOP PAUL MOORE at his townhouse in New York's Greenwich Village on April 15, 2003, I knew it was the last time I would see him. We had first met thirty-three years before, following his consecration as the Episcopal Bishop of New...
The Bodily Function Blues
In the middle of Mailer's second year at Harvard, on December 13, 1941, shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he began keeping a hand-written, loose-leaf journal and made sporadic entries covering 51 pages, ending the month he graduated,...
The Boxer and the Rabbi
NORMAN HAS SPOKEN AND WRITTEN about our relationship. Today, I speak of his influence on my life. Not as a writer, but as a caring person. You see, I believe he helped me become a better person, but never made a point of it. When we first met...
The Castle in the Forest: A Conversation with Norman Mailer
The following interview took place at Mailer's Provincetown home on September 12, 2006. It was the first of approximately So interviews given by Mailer on The Castle in the Forest during a book tour that took him to New York, Chicago, Los Angeles,...
The Death of Norman Mailer; the Birth of the Norman Mailer Society
MY FRIEND NORMAN I have returned from the funeral in Provincetown of a beloved friend of forty years. It was a beautiful but emotionally exhausting experience. My friend was generous of his time, treasure, and spirit. He was deeply loved by his...
The Hitler Family: A Relational Approach to Norman Mailer
NORMAN MAILER'S The Castle in the Forest is a special experience for an Austrian. In his latest book in the Henry Bech series, John Updike has his Jewish author-protagonist say on the occasion of a visit to Czechoslovakia: "Hitler. To come to Europe...
"Their Humor Annoyed Him": Cavalier Wit and Sympathy for the Devil in the Castle in the Forest
--"Himmler subscribed to the theory that the best human possibilities lie close to the worst." THERE IS A JOKE ABOUT ATTORNEYS that goes like this: lots of people were on a boat, which sank in shark-infested waters. It was horrible. The sharks...
The Knife's Edge
IT IS HARD TO REBEL AGAINST YOUR FATHER when your father is Norman Mailer. But because of my genetic proclivity toward rebellion-I am his daughter after all--I did, as a pugilistic and disagreeable teenager, do my damndest to rebel against our Dad....
The Mystery of Norman Mailer
As AN AMATEUR PIANIST, I've always liked the story about Vladimir Horowitz, perhaps apocryphal, that when asked by someone how to get to the stage of Carnegie Hall, he said, "Practice, practice, practice." However, he didn't have it quite right....
The Novel Was All
NORMAN MAILER HAD ONLY ONE SALARIED JOB. He served as a clerk, rifleman and cook in the U.S. Army. It was, he said, the worst experience of his life and the best. After his discharge, he wrote a novel based on his two years in the army. It appeared...
The Passing of Aquarius
LATE IN THE SUMMER of 1972, George McGovern had been nominated to be president, but he had already stumbled badly as a candidate as the result of his ill-fated choice of Thomas Eagleton as his running mate. The Republicans had not yet renominated...
The Time of His/our Time: Chance Meetings with Norman Mailer
I SIT DOWN TO WRITE THIS BRIEF FOOTNOTE to the time of his time just as the TV series Mad Men begins its run on BBC4 bracketed by a slew of documentaries recalling the rise of Madison Avenue in the early sixties. How remote it all seems and yet...
The Towering and the Dead
THE LAST AND--AND CERTAINLY MOST significant time that I spent with Norman--was a few weeks before he passed. I was with Richard Stratton and Norris and John Buffalo at the Brooklyn pad. Over the last couple of nights, I've tried to close my eyes...
The Unknown and the General
My black T-shirt feels painted onto me with sweat and my fingers are slippery inside the black leather motorcycle gloves as my chest heaves from the exertion, desperate for oxygen. I am going eighty mph on my Harley--and giving it to Marilyn at...
The Wise Blood of Norman Mailer: An Interpretation and Defense of Why Are We in Vietnam?
AMONG THE IMPERCEPTIVE AND RAUCOUS commentaries on Mailer's novels, this remark by Anatole Broyard stands out as refreshingly clear: "the rock he throws usually has a message tied to it" (4). In the case of Why Are We in Vietnam?, the rock has been...
The Writer in Opposition
WHEN THE FUTURE WRITER, Norman Mailer, was seven years old, the famous novelist, Sinclair Lewis, spoke about American writing of that era. Generous praise for young Hemingway, for Thomas Wolfe in Look Homeward, Angel. For Dos Passos, Wilder,...
This Is a Town Worth Digging in and Fighting For
I WAS THIRTEEN WHEN I NOTICED BRISK ACTIVITY In the East End of Provincetown, where my family had a home. People scurried from house to house, their arms clutching folders of manuscripts that seemed to contain secrets, and which I saw explode, during...
Tribute to Mailer
ON NOVEMBER 10TH, 2007, I was in a hotel room in Udaipur, India, channel-surfing for something that wasn't a Bollywood soap opera. Suddenly that familiar and beloved wide face with the questing blue eyes and the halo of white curls and the koala...
Two Notes on Mailer
1. Norman Mailer came out of World War II with his dukes up. He would battle social proprieties, received ideas, mass culture, dishonest wars, dangerously dimwitted presidents, but also critics, book reviewers, feminists, and, as if by necessity,...
Valentine's Day
WHEN NORMAN DIED, I felt ontologically heartbroken. It was as if a category of existence itself had become defunct. I had two things to console me: the fact that I had been able to publish an essay celebrating Norman's splendor as a writer while...
What's Wrong with America: Five Proposals
In 1992, Mailer's agent, Scott Meredith, was asked if Mailer would participate in "The Rediscover America Project," a Time advertising supplement paid for by the Chrysler Corporation. The idea was that the supplement would extol Chrysler products...
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