1963

On March 10, he is introduced to actress Beverly Bentley by his boxing friend Roger Donoghue at P.J. Clarke’s restaurant in New York. He marries her on 29 December in his Brooklyn apartment, after divorcing Jeanne Campbell in Juarez, Mexico on 16 December.

His second miscellany, The Presidential Papers, ostensibly advice for President Kennedy, is published on 8 November. The photo on the back of the dust jacket shows Mailer sitting in a J.F.K.-style rocking chair. It was designed before the assassination, and the chair was airbrushed out when the same photo is used on the cover of the 1964 Bantam paperback edition. 

Norman Mailer (1963)

Begins writing a serial novel for Esquire, titled An American Dream, in which J.F.K. is a minor character.

In 1963, he publishes more than thirty pieces (poems, book reviews, essays, interviews, columns, letters, debates and a short story) in a dozen different places, the beginning of a periodical blizzard that continues unabated until the mid-1970s. Scott Meredith becomes his literary agent in the fall, and successfully negotiates the sale of An American Dream to Dial Press, and the movie rights to MGM.

Norman Mailer (1963)

in Days | 187 Words

63.40

Letters to Myrick Land. In “Mr. Norman Mailer Challenges All the Talent in the Room,” The Fine Art of Literary Mayhem: A Lively Account of Famous Writers and Their Feuds, by Myrick Land, 216-38. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. Chapter recapitulating “Quick and Expensive Comments on the Talent in the Room” (59.10), followed by rejoinders from Mailer and some of those he appraised in the original essay: Chandler Brossard, Herbert Gold, William Styron, Gore Vidal and Vance Bourjaily. The revised second edition (San Francisco: Lexikos, 1983) contains a 1982 postscript with valedictory comments from Mailer, Bourjaily and Gold, 228-44. See “Appendix A—Professional Mendacity” in 63.37 where Mailer criticizes the 18 January Time review of Land’s book. See also 13.2, 247-52.

63.39

“The Last Night.” Esquire, December, 151, 274-80. Story. The concluding piece in Cannibals and Christians (66.11), Mailer’s nuclear fantasy was reworked into an unpublished screenplay by Mailer and his wife Norris Church. He once planned to call in “1999,”) but decided against it feeling comparisons with Orwell’s 1984 would be invidious. Rpt: 67.11, 82.19, 84.35.

63.38

“The Fate of the Union: Kennedy and After.” New York Review of Books, 26 December, 6. Symposium contribution. This 175-word tribute is echoed, in part, by Mailer’s “Special Preface to Bantam Edition” of The Presidential Papers, May 1964 (64.15). Rpt: A Tribute to John F. Kennedy, edited by Pierre Salinger and Sander Vanocur. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 29 May 1964. See 76.13.

63.37a

“Author Traces Kennedy Impact.” Article by Richard Woodley. Middletown (Conn.) Press, 12 December, 1, 20. Account of Mailer’s talk at Wesleyan University in the wake of the assassination of the President. Mailer said that when Kennedy, who he felt was a sort of older brother, was alive, “you had the feeling for the first time there was somebody in the White House you could talk to.” He went on to indicate his fear for the future of the country: “We now wonder who will be leading the country in a year, whether or not Johnson will be alive.”

63.37

The Presidential Papers. New York: Putnam’s, 8 November. London: Deutsch, late April or early May 1964, with new preface (same as Bantam edition). Miscellany, 310 pp.

Norman Mailer (1963)

Republished with “Special Preface” by Mailer. New York: Bantam, May 1964 (64.15); republished with new preface by Mailer. New York: Berkley, October 1976 (76.13). Dedication: “This book is dedicated to some ladies who have aided and impeded the author in his composition. They are: Beverly Rentz Sugarfoot Bentley; Jean Louise Slugger Campbell; my daughters: Susan, Dandy, Betsy, Kate; my adopted daughter: Jeanne H.W. the Invaluable Johnson; my secretary: Anne Morse Towel-Boy Barry; my sister: Barbara Jane Alson; and Sadie, and Hetty Diggs, and Every-Mae.” Discarded titles: “The Devil Revisited”; “Frankie and Johnny, Or, The Murder of Good Ideas.” Mailer gives dates and details of composition for the volume’s contents in “Appendix B—Projects and Places.” Rpt: Several selections appear in 13.1, and truncated form in 98.7. See 1963 entries and 14.4.

Mailer:

Its anxiety is its anxiety, and its half-satisfied ambition is very much its throttled ambition, but for anyone who would like a clue to the mood of the country in the summer of 1963 just before that autumn of assassination which would change the psychic history of America forever, the book is a document. Besides—I whisper it—The Presidential Papers does have a couple of the better pieces I’ve written. (76.13)

63.36

“The Mary McCarthy Case.” New York Review of Books, 17 October, 1-3. Review of The Group, by Mary McCarthy. Perhaps Mailer’s finest book review. Rpt: As “The Case Against McCarthy” in 66.11.

63.35

“The Leading Man, or the Dark Ambiguities within Us All.” Book Week (New York Herald Tribune), 29 September, 1, 16- 17. Review of J.F.K.: The Man and the Myth, by Victor Lasky. Rpt: 66.11, 68.11.

63.34

“The Talent and the Torment.” Article-interview by Frederick Christian. Cosmopolitan, August, 63-67. Sketchy and sensationalized overview of Mailer’s personal and literary life; contains accounts of several meetings with Mailer during the period he lived in Connecticut, and a 1963 interview in which Mailer discusses his involvement with the Actors’ Studio in New York. A letter to Christian from Mailer’s Harvard professor, Theodore Morrison, is quoted.

63.33

“Antidote.” No Author. Harper’s Bazaar, July, 74-75. Questionnaire seeking the negative opinions, or “anathemas of five noted Americans,” on 13 various artistic categories and activities: play, book, painter, food, film, musical work, celebrity, activity, virtue, place, mental attitude, type of humor and “Antidote in a category of my own.” Participating are Theodore Roethke, Mailer, Marianne Moore, Orson Bean and Jules Feiffer. Mailer says: “The worst celebrity in America is of course J. Edgar Hoover,” a comment that caused this article to be placed in his FBI file.