1969

The Armies of the Night wins several awards: National Book Award in arts and letters (12 March); George Polk Memorial Award for magazine reporting (27 March); Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction (5 May). In addition, Miami and the Siege of Chicago is a finalist for the National Book Award in the history and biography category.

On 1 May, he announces his candidacy for mayor of New York (with journalist Jimmy Breslin as his running mate). He tells the media, “I will probably be in politics for the rest of my life. I mean it.” He comes in fourth in a field of five in the Democratic primary; Robert Wagner wins, only to lose to Independent Party candidate John Lindsay in the general election.

Norman Mailer (1969)

Awarded honorary Doctor of Letters by Rutgers University on 4 June. Also in June, running as an “insurgent” candidate for the Harvard Board of Overseers, he is defeated in an alumni election.

In July, he begins coverage of the Apollo 11 mission for Life, traveling to Texas, Alabama and Florida, and interviewing the astronauts and NASA officials.

In August, Running Against the Machine, a collection of documents and interviews concerning the mayoral campaign, and edited by Peter Manso, is published.

He separates from Beverly Bentley in late summer, and begins living with jazz singer Carol Stevens.

The first book-length critical studies of Mailer’s work are published: Donald L. Kaufmann’s Norman Mailer: The Countdown; and Barry H. Leeds’s The Structured Vision of Norman Mailer.

Norman Mailer (1969)

in Days | 243 Words

69.83

“The Psychology of Astronauts.” Life, 14 November, 50-60, 62-63. Nonfiction narrative. Second of a three-part series on the 1969 moon shot, later incorporated with much reordering into Of a Fire on the Moon (71.1). See 69.81, 70.1.

69.82

Foreword to The End of Obscenity: The Trials of “Lady Chatterley,” “Tropic of Cancer” and “Fanny Hill,” by Charles Rembar, vii-xi. London: Deutsch, September. The 1968 American edition (New York: Random House) does not contain Mailer’s foreword or introduction. It does carry a jacket blurb from Mailer taken from the first sentence of the foreword: “The book in your hand is a quiet and essentially modest account of a legal revolution.” Presumably, the foreword was written too late to be included in the American first edition, and so appeared only in subsequent editions. Rembar is Mailer’s first cousin, and the foreword is an admiring sketch of “Cy,” who, as a student, preceded Mailer at Harvard. Rpt: As Introduction to the Bantam softcover edition, New York, September; 72.7, 82.19Project Mailer. See 92.12.

69.81

“A Fire on the Moon.” Life, 29 August, 24-41; cover photograph of Mailer. Nonfiction narrative, the first of five by Mailer in Life. First of a three-part series on the 1969 moon shot, later incorporated with much reordering into Of a Fire on the Moon (71.1). According to the “Editor’s Note: Norman Mailer at the Typewriter” by Ralph Graves (p. 1), this first installment of 26,000 words is “the longest non-fiction piece Life has ever published in one issue.” Graves quotes Mailer on the length: “I can’t write anything in 5,000 words, and 10,000 words is just for poker money.” See 69.83, 70.1, 13.2, 420-25.

69.80

Running against the Machine: A Grass Roots Race for the New York Mayoralty by Norman Mailer, Jimmy Breslin, Peter Maas, Gloria Steinem and others. Edited by Peter Manso. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, late August; simultaneously as a softcover. Miscellany, 313 pp., $6.95. Articles, debates, interviews, position papers, speeches and columns concerning the campaign of Mailer and Breslin for the Democratic nomination for mayor and City Council president of New York, respectively. One-paragraph preface, dated 22 July, from Mailer ending with a dedication “to the hard-working staff and the enthusiastic volunteers of the Mailer-Breslin Campaign.”

69.79

“Shoot-for-the-Moon Mailer: An Interview with Norman Mailer on the Literary Life and Practical Politics.” By Leticia Kent. Vogue, 15 August, 86-89, 139. Conducted in May before the primary election for mayor, Kent’s interview focuses on the tension between literature and politics, writing and action. Rpt: 69.80.

69.78

“Dear Norman Mailer.” Article-interview by Irma Kurtz. Sunday Express (Johannesburg), 6 July, 1, 4. A 2,500-word portrait of Mailer buttressed by engaging quotes from an interview at Mailer’s Brooklyn Heights apartment: “I’m in a pleasant position right now because I don’t know what I’m up to. I’m not burning with a mission. I’m free to move.” Rpt: A slightly truncated version appeared earlier in Nova (London), March, 106-7, 109.

69.77

“Be My Guest, Norman Mailer.” New York Post, 1 July, 57. James A. Wechsler turns his column over to Mailer for a post-mortem. Mailer counters the “liberal canon, cemented in concrete, that we ruined Herman Badillo’s chance of winning the mayoralty primary.” Rpt: 69.80.

69.76

“A Literary Ticket for the 51st State.” Article by Richard Woodley. Life, 30 June, 71-72. New and old quotes stitched into an overview of the campaign, appearing after Mailer and Breslin lost on 17 June.

69.75

“A Candid Talk with Mailer (Who Wants to Be Mayor of New York).” Article-interview by Joe Walker. Muhammad Speaks (New York), 20 June, 11-12. Focuses on minority rights and educational access. Concludes: “To be continued,” but part two has not been located.