1952

Mailer and Bea divorce in late January.

Begins work on The Deer Park.

In February, he rents a studio in the Ovington Building on Fulton Street in Brooklyn, which he maintains for several years. He is amazed to learn that the Russian spy, Col. Rudolph Abel (exchanged for U-2 pilot Gary Powers in 1962), has an office in the same building.

In October, he moves to a sixth floor walkup at 41 First Avenue, where he installs his own plumbing. Meets Gore Vidal at Millicent Brower’s New York apartment.

He also makes his first trip to Mexico to see his daughter Susan in the fall, stopping to see “Fig” Gwaltney in Arkansas.

He begins writing short stories, and publishes five in 1952-53.

Fan, Sue, NM 1952

in Days | 121 Words

52.3

“The Dead Gook.” In Discovery, No. 1, edited by John W. Aldridge and Vance Bourjaily, 56-76. New York: Pocket Books, December, softcover. Story about a jungle patrol with partisans in the Philippines. In his prefatory “advertisement” to this story, 52.2 and 53.2 in Advertisements for Myself (59.13), Mailer notes that he has “no great pride in them, because they are respectable. They make no attempt to raise the house an inch or two.” Rpt: 59.13, 67.11, 68.32, 82.19.

52.2

“The Paper House.” In New World Writing: Second Mentor Collection, 58-69. New York: New American Library, November, softcover. Story set in occupied Japan. Dedicated to Vance Bourjaily, “who told me the anecdote on which the story is based.” Rpt: Lilliput’s Extra Holiday Reading (London), August 1953; 59.13, 67.11, 68.32, 82.19, and Stag, February, 1975. NM collected this story, along with 52.3 and 53.2, in a small paperback, in English, but with notes in Japanese: A Selection from the Short Fiction of Norman Mailer. Edited by Iwao Iwamoto. Tokyo: Shohakusha, 1967. It is perhaps the rarest of all Mailer’s books in English.

52.1

“Our Country and Our Culture: A Symposium.” Partisan Review 19 (May-June), 298-301. Symposium contribution. Twenty-five American writers wrestle with four questions on the “new” and more positive relationship between American writers and intellectuals and mass democratic culture. Mailer declares straightaway that he is “in almost total disagreement with the assumptions of this symposium,” and goes on to argue for the efficacy of alienation and opposition to current society, rather than “a strapping participation in the vigors of American life.” Among those joining Mailer in his (first) contribution to Partisan Review are: Louise Bogan, Leslie Fiedler, Irving Howe, Margaret Mead, C. Wright Mills, William Phillips, Philip Rahv, David Riesman and Lionel Trilling. Rpt: America and the Intellectuals: A Symposium (PR Series, Number Four). New York: Partisan Review, May 1953, softcover; 59.13.

52.0

“Authors Debate U.S., USSR Issues at Mt. Holyoke.” No Author. Springfield Union, 27 March 1952. Article-Interview. Report on a debate, titled “The U.S.A. or the USSR,” between Mailer and Dwight Macdonald at this private college in South Hadley, Mass. on 26 March. Macdonald’s speech, titled “I Choose the West,” was reprinted in his collection, Memoirs of a Revolutionist. New York: Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, 1957. Mailer’s speech was titled “I Cannot Choose,” and has never been reprinted, or located. While both agreed on the general superiority of Western civilization at that moment, Mailer feared the U.S. backsliding into a war economy, and the possibility of Europe either aligning itself with the USSR, or being attacked and conquered by it. If this happened, he said, there will be a lowering of the standard of living in the U.S, perhaps Nazi-like concentration camps for dissenters, and a general breakdown of moral values. “The independent spirit of non-conformity that the U.S. has founded is dying out,” he concluded.