On 14 April, The Executioner’s Song wins the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
In November, he divorces Beverly Bentley, marries and divorces Carol Stevens, and marries (on 11 November) Norris Church.
Of Women and Their Elegance, a short novel about an imaginary incident in Marilyn Monroe’s life, is published on 26 November, the same month that he and Norris play cameo roles in Milos Foreman’s film based on E. L. Doctorow’s novel, Ragtime.
In the fall, Mailer is interviewed in Germany by J. Michael Lennon for a film documentary, Norman Mailer: A Sanction to Write, which is later shown in the U.S.
Introduction to Soon to Be a Major Motion Picture, by Abbie Hoffman, xii-xv. New York: Perigee Books, G.P. Putnam’s. Rpt: With slight changes (made after Hoffman’s 1989 suicide) as Foreword to The Best of Abbie Hoffman, edited by Daniel Simon and Hoffman. New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 1989; 98.7 (partial); Project Mailer.
Of a Small and Modest Malignancy, Wicked and Bristling with Dots. Northridge, Cal.: Lord John Press. Essay, 103 pp., $75. Limited, signed edition of 400 hardcover copies. Rpt: 77.7, 82.16, 98.7 (partial).
Sworn Affidavit of Norman Mailer, 7 January 1953. In The Law of the Land: The Evolution of Our Legal System, by Charles Rembar, 370-75. New York: Simon and Schuster. Mailer’s deposition concerns the loyalty of his father, Isaac Barnett Mailer, an accountant with the War Department, whose job was under the Civil Service Commission. Despite Norman Mailer’s own leftist sympathies, his testimony convinced the Commission to clear his father without even holding a hearing. Mailer says he himself is not a “concealed Communist,” as charged, but “admittedly and openly a dissident from the conventional and generally accepted attitudes about America and its position in the world today.”
The Short Fiction of Norman Mailer. New York: Howard Fertig. Short stories, 285 pp., $18.50. First hardcover edition of this collection, which previously appeared in a softcover edition (67.11), and earlier as part of The Essential Mailer (82.19). See 68.32, 72.7, 74.19.
“Cousins.” In Wonders: Writings and Drawings for the Child in Us All, edited by Jonathan Cott and Mary Gimbel, 390. New York: Rolling Stone Press. Poem. Illustrated by Norris Church.
“Mailer on ‘Ragtime.’” Letter to the editor. New York Times, 24 December, Sec. C, p. 6. Mailer explains that William Borders was in error in his 17 December article in saying that Mailer had asked that his wife replace the extra that was playing his date in the film. See 80.20.
“Mailer, Dying for a Part in ‘Ragtime.’” Article by William Borders. New York Times, 17 December, Sec. C, p. 25. Report on the London filming of Milos Forman’s “Ragtime,” based on E.L. Doctorow’s 1975 novel of the same name, in which Mailer plays the role of architect Stanford White, who is murdered in the film. Mailer is quoted briefly on his role and the richness of the film. Norris Church, his sixth wife, had a small role in the film. See 80.21, 81.18–81.20.
“How is Fiction Doing?” New York Times Book Review, 14 December, 3, 30. Several novelists, including John Barth, Joyce Carol Oates, Jayne Anne Phillips, and Scott Spencer join Mailer in prognosticating on the novel’s future. Mailer says that although the form is “cut off on one flank by film, and on the other by history (which has become more novelistic than the novel),” he predicts that novelists “will break out of our cysts, infiltrate other disciplines, inhabit new epistemological modes . . . and produce flowers never glimpsed before.”
“Mailer Writes Another Monroe Doctrine.” Article-interview by Rick Kogan. Chicago Sun-Times, 15 December, 49, 69. On the book tour for 80.15 (four cities: Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and New York), Mailer notes that he “was never altogether happy” with his first book on Monroe (73.30), because “I was never inside her head.”