“Norman Mailer on Wives, Women, Books.” Article-interview by Marian Christy. Boston Sunday Globe, 7 December, Sec. A, pp. 8, 16. Mailer talks about elegance, his ex-wives and children, the discipline of writing and his talent: “What I’m concerned about is my talent becoming larger or smaller. I’m as obsessed with that as a fashion model is about the dimensions of her waist.”
“Norman Mailer on Love, Sex, God, and the Devil.” Interview by Cathleen Medwick. Vogue, December, 268-69, 322. Comment on the matters cited in the title; Marilyn Monroe; his novel-in-progress, Ancient Evenings (83.18); his recent reviews; and his potential as an actor. Rpt: As “One-Night Stands” in 82.16 (partial).
Of Women and Their Elegance. Photographs by Milton Greene. New York: Simon and Schuster, 26 November; London: Hodder and Stoughton. Novel, 288 pp., $29.95.
No dedication. In a concluding “Author’s Note,” Mailer calls the book “an imaginary memoir.” Discarded title: Of Women and Their Elegance: by Marilyn Monroe as Told to Norman Mailer. Of the 124 photographs, 34 are of Marilyn Monroe and illustrate, in part, Mailer’s text. The remaining photographs are of other show business and/or fashion figures, including Marlene Dietrich, Audrey Hepburn, Amy Greene, Suzy Parker, Judy Garland, Gene Kelly and many others. The individuals or scenes in 23 of the photographs are unidentified.
The softcover edition (New York: Tom Doherty; distributed by Pinnacle, November 1981) contains 93 of these photographs; most of them are poorly reproduced. In both editions, a few photographs are misidentified or given incorrect page numbers on the “Identifications” page. For example, the second photograph of Tedi Thurman is not on 17, as listed in the first edition, but on 18-19. Mailer drew heavily on Of Women and Their Elegance for his later play “Strawhead” (86.25). Rpt: 80.12, 80.14 (partial). See 73.30, 80.17–80.19, 82.9, 86.22.
Mailer: “I wanted the reader to be jarred into a comprehension of the size and spectrum of a movie star’s soul. There is more to a movie star than we think, not less. I wanted to deepen the legend of Marilyn Monroe, not sweeten it” (80.14).
“Before the Literary Bar.” New York, 10 November, 27-31, 33-36, 38, 40, 43-46; cover photograph of Mailer. Self-interview in the form of a courtroom proceeding in defense of 80.15, which Mailer describes as “a false autobiography” and “an imaginary memoir.” Illustrated with Milton Greene’s photographs of Marilyn Monroe from 80.15. Rpt: 88.6, 13.1. See 73.30, 80.12, 86.22, 86.25.
“Browsing Through Mailer’s ‘Cannibals.’” Article-interview by Christopher Lehmann-Haupt. New York Times, 6 November, C24. The author explores the connections between the poem, “The Executioner’s Song,” that Mailer published in Cannibals and Christians (66.11), and the nonfiction narrative of the same name that he published in 1979. Mailer said, “I wanted to put the poem at the beginning, but I thought it would prove misleading. It doesn’t have much to do with the book. The executioner in the novel [sic] might after all be Gary Gilmore.”
“In a Merry Marriage-Go-Round, Norman Mailer Plans a Double Wedding, to Wives Five and Six.” Article by unidentified writer. People Weekly, 3 November, 34-35. Sketchy report garnered from Liz Smith’s column on Mailer’s divorce from wife number four, Beverly Bentley, followed by marriage to Carol Stevens, with whom he lived from 1969 to 1975, then immediate divorce from her and immediate marriage (on 11 November) to Norris Church, with whom he lived since 1975. Mailer described the marriage to and divorce from Stevens as “civilized,” undertaken to “honor” his years with her and their child, Maggie. The article is accompanied by photographs of all six of his wives, and quotes from Church and Bentley. An editorial in New York Times, 19 October, Sec. 4, p. 30, subtitled “Mailer’s Ring Cycle,” lauds Mailer for these marriages: “In a time when the very idea of matrimony is in question, when parents are becoming an endangered species…Norman Mailer comes along and reminds us of the verities….Call the novelist a matrimaniac, or call him a mensch. We call Norman Mailer a still point in a turning world.” See also “The Amours of Norman, Chapters 5 and 6,” New York Times, 14 October, Sec. B, p.12; 78.4, 78.5, 79.2–79.5, 79.8.
“Norman Mailer Writes a New ‘Fantasy Autobiography’ of Marilyn Monroe: Of Women and Their Elegance.” Ladies’ Home Journal, September, 93-95, 154, 156, 159-60, 162, 164. Advance excerpt from 80.15 dealing with Monroe’s marriage to Arthur Miller. Except for the addition of several paragraph breaks, the excerpt is identical to the following pages of the first edition: 143-49, 172-80, 227-28. It is followed by a “Publisher’s Note”:
While based on Marilyn Monroe’s life and the reminiscences of Amy and Milton Greene, the episodes depicted here are not intended to be wholly factual representations of the life of Marilyn Monroe and in no way pretend to offer the actual thoughts of Marilyn Monroe or anyone else named in this book.
This disclaimer appears in a slightly different form on the copyright page of 80.15. Lenore Hershey’s “Editor’s Diary: Mailer and Marilyn” on p. 2 of this issue quotes Mailer on his reason for writing a “fantasy autobiography” of Monroe: “I felt an obvious identity with her because she came out of nothing and achieved such notoriety. In a less embattled way, the same is true of me.” See 73.30, 80.14, 86.24, 86.25.
“A Librarian Interviews Norman Mailer.” By Ophelia Georgiev Roop. American Libraries, July-August, 412-13. Consists of notes of Roop’s conversation with Mailer before he gave the third annual Marian McFadden Memorial Lecture at the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library, where he also read from his novel-in-progress, Ancient Evenings (83.18). His comments focus on television and libraries and the magazines he likes: Scientific American, Adventure Travel, Mariah, Nation, and New Republic. Rpt: Roop’s interview originally appeared in the June issue of Reading in Indianapolis.
“An Interview with Norman Mailer.” By John W. Aldridge. Partisan Review 47 (July), 174-82. Focuses on the narrative opportunities and challenges Mailer faced in writing The Executioner’s Song (79.14). Mailer again compares it with Capote’s In Cold Blood and notes that Gilmore was an appealing character “because he embodied many of the themes I’ve been living with all my life.” Rpt: 88.6. See 79.1, 80.1, 85.15.
“In Prison.” New York Review of Books, 26 June, 34. In this 389-word note prefacing Jack Henry Abbott’s firsthand account of the violence in America’s prisons, Mailer says that Abbott’s “writing impressed me as being as good as any convict’s prose I had read since Eldridge Cleaver.” Abbott’s essay was later revised for his book, In the Belly of the Beast: Letters from Prison, for which Mailer wrote an introduction (81.10). Along with several others in the literary world, Mailer later helped Abbott gain parole, and hired him after his release. Abbott was convicted of murder in 1982. Mailer regularly attended his trial. See 1981 and 1982 entries.