After a bitter fallout with Styron and growing boredom with country living, The Mailers move back to New York, renting an apartment at 73 Perry Street in Greenwich Village.
In the fall, spends a week lecturing at the University of Chicago, where he meets a graduate student, Robert F. Lucid, who becomes his archivist and lifelong friend.
He is invited to join the Actors’ Studio (Playwright and Directors Unit) in New York City, where staged readings of his play are performed.
Late in the year Mailer’s sister Barbara begins doing secretarial work for him, which she will continue intermittently for a few years. Following her will be a chain of secretaries to handle his professional activities, and his overlapping personal life.
The White Negro. San Francisco: City Lights Books. Essay, 27 pp., 35¢, softcover.
This often-reprinted pamphlet is almost always given a 1957 date in bibliographies, an unlikely date in that the essay is followed in the pamphlet by the 1958 piece, “Reflections on Hipsterism” (58.1). A 23 August 1959 Chicago Sun-Times review of the second (50¢) City Lights edition, and Mailer’s 30 April 1959 letter to City Lights editor, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, indicates a 1959 City Light publication date. In addition, the list of available City Lights publications in the 50¢ edition contains only 1958 publications. Rpt: 57.1, 59.13, 98.7 (partial), Voices of Dissent: A Collection of Articles from Dissent. New York: Grove, 1958.
The White Negro
“Norman Mailer.” Interview by Mike Wallace. In Mike Wallace Asks, edited by Charles Preston and Edward A. Hamilton, 26-27. New York: Simon and Schuster. Excerpts from Wallace’s 5 March 1957 “Night Beat” television program; mainly concerned with Mailer’s views on sex and censorship. Two brief excerpts from the book appeared in the New York Post, July 24 and 25, 1958, presumably just before or after the book appeared. See 58.2, 73.19, 77.7. See 13.2, 217-18.
Statement for class record. In Harvard College, Class of 1943: Fifteenth Anniversary Report, 148. Cambridge: Harvard University. Mailer’s 157-word statement summarizes his publishing activities from 1953 to 1958. In the first half of the statement, Mailer speaks of his ambition and “the slapping [sic] of one’s creative rage by our most subtle and clear totalitarian time, politely called the time of conformity.” In the “First Advertisement for Myself,” the opening essay of Advertisements for Myself (59.13), Mailer notes that “slapping” should have been “sapping” and concludes that “what I was trying to say was simply, ‘The shits are killing us.’” See 49.4, 53.5, 83.59.
Letter to the editor, Contact (San Francisco) 1, pp. 97-98. Mailer responds to a request for a review of the film version of The Naked and the Dead (48.2) by noting that he doesn’t have time. He offers instead his letter to the New York Post (58.3) about his disagreements with the film’s director. Contact publishes Mailer’s note and the New York Post letter. See Mailer’s reaction to the film, 13.2, 240.
“Hip Mailer Talks to Orwell Forum; Defines American Beatnik Generation.” John C. Wellington, Yale Daily News, 9 December 1958. Wearing a beard and sitting cross-legged on the stage of the Yale Art Gallery auditorium, Mailer answered questions about “The White Negro” (57.1), hipsters and beatniks. The beatniks, he said, were partially a result of the “oppressive” life of the Negro in America, who looked for new means of expression in language and action to combat it. “This life is not casual. But it is brave, as the beatniks live with danger. It is not a cheap or passive decision.” The creative powers of people were curtailed, and the new life the beats lead is necessary, even if it is “somewhat insulting and mocking” to an ordinary person. The inner life of hipsters, he continued “is different than going to an analyst. It is going against the state. Going against what is socially acceptable.” He went on to say that the country “is getting sicker. Television plays are phony, filled with lies.” He also blamed the lack of creativity on the Cold War.
“Advertisements for Myself on the Way Out.” Partisan Review 25 (fall), 519-40. Story. Original title: “The Time of the Evil Saint.” Told from omniscient perspective, about Marion Faye of The Deer Park (55.4) in Provincetown. Rpt: 59.13 (with subtitle, “Prologue to a Long Novel”), 67.11, 82.19. See 56.25. See 13.2, 235-39.
“Norman Mailer Answers Gregory.” Letter to the editor. New York Post, 25 August. Denial of accusations about Mailer’s conduct in a restaurant made by Paul Gregory, producer of film version of The Naked and the Dead (48.2), in Archer Winsten’s 11 August Post column. Rpt: 59.13. See 58.5.
“Mike Wallace Asks: Norman Mailer.” New York Post, 24 and 25 July. Excerpts from a longer interview done in May or June, focusing on sex, morality and The Deer Park (55.4). The first of several antagonistic interviews with Wallace. See 58.7, 77.7.
“Reflections on Hipsterism.” Dissent 5 (winter), 73-81. Response to “The White Negro” (57.1) by Jean Malaquais and Ned Polsky with Mailer’s counterpoint. Rpt: As “Reflections on Hip” in 58.8, 59.13.