1972

Mailer begins work on what for the next several years will be called “the Egyptian novel,” later published as Ancient Evenings.

In debt and in arrears to the I.R.S, he speaks at more than 20 colleges to earn money over the year.

His fourth miscellany, Existential Errands, which contains his essays on film and theatre, and his negative review of Norman Podhoretz’s 1967 memoir, Making It, is published on 17 April.

In the summer, he covers the national political conventions, and publishes his account of them, St. George and the Godfather, in late October (with advance excerpts in Life and New York Review of Books).

In September, he and Carol Stevens move to Stockbridge, MA, where he purchases a house.

On 12 October his father dies. In November, he begins working on a biography of Marilyn Monroe, shortly after meeting with his most important collaborator, Lawrence Schiller, who conceives of the book and supplies the many photos that accompany Mailer’s words.

Later that month in Illinois he meets J. Michael Lennon, who will become his editor, archivist and authorized biographer.

J. Michael Lennon (1985)

in Days | 180 Words

72.24

“Caribbean Cruise Attempts to Seek Meaning of Apollo.” Article by Tom Buckley. New York Times, 12 December, 49, 53. Report on a cruise aboard the S.S. Statendam organized to observe the launch of the Apollo 17 mission and give seminars on space and humanity’s future. Mailer was joined by the following at panel discussions: Hugh Downs, narrator, Dr. Robert D. Enzmann, Isaac Asimov, Ben Bova and Robert Heinlein. Katherine Anne Porter, covering the event for Playboy, was in the audience. Mailer criticized N.A.S.A. for having “taken the most exciting event of the 20th century [Apollo 11, the moon shot] and succeeded in making it monumentally boring and profoundly depressing.” See 71.1, 72.9, 73.1.

72.23

“Moral Superiority.” Letter to the editor. Time, 11 December, 9. Complaint about being quoted out of context in the “People” section, 6 November, regarding the moral superiority of George McGovern. Rpt: 14.3.

72.22

“TV Review: Mailer and Laing Seen in Channel 13 Talk.” Article by John J. O’Conner. New York Times, 10 November, 72. Review of a program hosted by Patrick Watson, on which Mailer and R.D. Laing discussed schizophrenia and other matters. O’Conner found the show to be a “disaster,” but the Mailer quotes he gives suggest otherwise. Mailer says that if he could be born again, he would choose to spend nine months in the womb of “a black woman of marvelous grace and strength.”

72.21

“Mailer: A Maverick Who Became…Aquarius Rex.” Article-interview by Bruce Cook. National Observer, 4 November, 1, 15. Report on Mailer’s late October appearance at State University of New York at Stony Brook where he read from 72.17, and then answered Cook’s questions on the 60s, film, and the future of American society. Asked what shape radical movements should take in the 70s, he said: “And if I have a fundamental notion it’s that people have to do their own work. I’m not prescribing.” Rpt: As “Aquarius Rex” in Will the Real Norman Mailer Please Stand Up, edited by Laura Adams. Port Washington, N.Y.: Kennikat, 1974.

72.20

“The Genius.” New York Review of Books, 2 November, 16-20. Election issue, lead story. Nonfiction narrative. Advance excerpts from part 3, “Program,” of St. George and the Godfather (72.17) focusing on Richard Nixon. This issue appeared on newsstands at approximately the same time as 72.17, in late October.

72.19

“Norman Mailer in Illinois.” Article-interview by Mike Lennon. Sunrise (Macomb, Ill.), no. 4 (November), 24-26. Report on a late October appearance at Western Illinois University where Mailer showed his second film, Beyond the Law, and read from the still-unreleased St. George and the Godfather (72.17). Interview questions center on narrative perspective in Mailer’s nonfiction. Mailer also mentions “a very long novel” he is working on with “60,000 words or six chapters completed.” The novel is Ancient Evenings (83.18). See 72.12.

72.18

“The Day the Movement Died.” Article by Dotson Rader. Esquire, November, 130-35, 194, 196-98, 200, 202, 204. Mailer is quoted several times in this long article on the decline and fall of various protest movements. Rpt: In a revised form as “With Mailer at the Senator’s” in Blood Dues. New York: Knopf, 1973. Rader’s book also includes an account of the anti-war rally at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York on 6 December 1971 at which a dramatic fragment from Why Are We in Vietnam? (67.15) was read. Also reprinted in the “Fiftieth Anniversary Collector’s Issue,” Esquire: How We Lived, 1933-1983 (June 1983). See 67.15, 85.11.

72.17

St. George and the Godfather. New York: New American Library, late October, softcover. Nonfiction narrative on the 1972 political conventions, 229 pp., $1.50.

St. George and the Godfather (1972)

Dedication: “To dad (alias Isaac Barnett Mailer).” A September publication date is given on the copyright page; it is incorrect, as explained in 72.12, 72.19. Rpt: Advance excerpts appeared in Life (72.10) and New York Review of Books (72.20); 76.5; with an introduction by John Leonard in the first hardcover and (simultaneous) softcover editions. New York: Arbor House (83.49); 98.7 (partial).

Mailer:

So Norman Mailer, who looked to rule himself by Voltaire’s catch-all precept, ‘Once a philosopher, twice a pervert’ and preferred therefore never to repeat a technique, was still obliged to call himself Aquarius again for he had not been in Miami two days before he knew he would not write objectively about the Convention of ’72. (72.17)

72.16

“Norman Mailer in Full Cry.” Article by William Moore. San Francisco Chronicle, 26 October, 7. Report on an impromptu discussion with students after Mailer’s speech at University of California, Berkeley on October 25. Mailer comments on the Women’s Liberation movement, Gore Vidal, Dick Cavett, Johnny Carson and Richard Nixon.