in Primary


Existential Errands. Boston: Little, Brown, 17 April; Sevenoaks, Kent: New English Library, August 1982. Miscellany, 365 pp., $7.95.

The British edition combines 72.7 with The Short Fiction of Norman Mailer (67.11) under the title The Essential Mailer (82.19).

Existential Errands (1972)

Dedication: “To Barbara, to Susan, to Adeline, and to Al.” Rpt: 98.7 (partial).


This collection covers pieces written almost entirely in the last five years, a period in which The Deer Park as a play [67.13] was given its last draft and then produced, Why Are We in Vietnam? [67.15] was written and then The Armies of the Night [68.8], Miami and the Siege of Chicago [68.25], Of a Fire on the Moon [71.1] and The Prisoner of Sex [71.20]. Three movies [Wild 90, Beyond the Law and Maidstone] were also made. So it is a period when, with every thought of beginning a certain big novel which had been promised for a long time, the moot desire to have one’s immediate say on contemporary matters kept diverting the novelistic impulse into journalism. (72.7)

Of the six books named above all but The Deer Park: A Play were nominated for a National Book Award in four different categories. The Armies of the Night won for arts and letters, and a Pulitzer Prize in general nonfiction as well.