Letter to the editor. Soho News, 19-25 August, 24. Writing in response to a comment in John Lombardi’s article, “Norman Mailer’s White Negro: Jack Henry Abbott and the End of Hip,” in the 5-11 August issue, Mailer says, “You wrote a factoid. I keep no bodyguard. Never have.” See 80.9, other 1981 and 1982 entries.
“Freedom for Convict-Author: Complex and Conflicting Tale.” Article by M. A. Farber. New York Times, 17 August, Sec. A, p. 1, Sec. B, p. 4. Report on Jack H. Abbott, his prison life, literary prospects and flight from New York City authorities who sought him for murder. Excerpts from Mailer’s 15 April 1980 letter to Utah authorities on Abbott’s behalf are quoted. See earlier Times articles by Farber on 20 and 26 July; 80.9, other 1981 and 1982 entries.
“Convict-Author Free at Last with New Book—Thanks to Mailer, NYRB and Random Editor.” Article-interview by Stella Dong. Publishers’ Weekly, 12 June, 39-40. Quotes Mailer, Robert Silvers of the New York Review of Books, Erroll McDonald of Random House and Jack Abbott on Abbott’s release from prison and his forthcoming book. See 80.9, other 1981 and 1982 entries.
“Discovering Jack H. Abbott.” New York Review of Books, 11 June, 15-16. Titled “A Vision of Hell” on the cover, Mailer’s essay accompanies two notes by Abbott, “On Women” and “On Nature.” In it, Mailer explains how he met Abbott during the time he was writing The Executioner’s Song (79.14). Rpt: With a few very minor changes, as Introduction to In the Belly of the Beast: Letters from Prison, by Jack Henry Abbott. New York: Random House, late June. Rpt: 13.1. See 80.9, other 1981, 1982 entries and 13.2, 551-66.
“A Sinister Occupation.” Book Digest Magazine, April, 20, 22-24, 27-29. Essay on the “spooky” psychology of writing; includes comment on reviews, royalties, ego, early success and fear of failure. He concludes: “I am still getting up my nerve at the age of fifty-seven to take a deep breath and tell the only personal story that any of us ever have, the true story of my own life and its curious turns, and all its private parts, yes, to look into the mirror and begin to write. Oh, what a fear is that.” This little-known essay, with many changes (including the excision of the sentence quoted), is the foundation of a longer essay, “The Hazards and Sources of Writing” (85.4).
“An Evening with Norman Mailer.” Interview by William McDonald. Lone Star Review, Dallas Times Herald, April, 1, 3, 13. Mainly comments on the genesis of Of Women and Their Elegance (80.15), with two humorous stories as bookends: one about Mailer’s first days in the 112th Cavalry and another about going to a Brooklyn bar with Truman Capote. See 80.18.
“Norman Mailer at Columbia.” Interview at a 17 February Columbia University seminar moderated by Joseph McElroy; edited by Paul Hoagland and Kurt Duecker. Columbia: A Magazine of Poetry and Prose, no. 6 (spring- summer), 103-15. Major interview. Rpt: As “A Little on Novel-Writing” in 82.16.
“Prisoner of Success.” Interview by Paul Attanasio. Boston Phoenix, 24 February, 1-2, 11. Conducted in late December 1980, Attanasio’s interview elicits insights on other writers: Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Leo Tolstoy, E.L. Doctorow; his pessimistic response to Ronald Reagan’s election; comment on the fact/fiction debate and on two of his own works, The Executioner’s Song (79.14) and Of Women and Their Elegance (80.15). Speaking of his depiction of Marilyn in 80.15, he says: “I invented an episode for her that was quite possibly more extreme than anything she ever did herself in her life. And that gave me pause. . . . but I wrote it with the idea that Marilyn, wherever she is, would accept this treatment of her.” Rpt: 82.16.
“How to Fit $2 Million Into a Bag.” Article-interview by William Safire. New York Times, 16 February, A19. Safire quotes Frank Sinatra on the impossibility of getting $2 million in money into an attaché case. Sinatra added that if it could be done, he would give Safire that amount. When Mailer read of it, he contacted Safire and explained in precise terms how it was possible to get $2,012,000 in $100 bills into a Samsonite attaché case, 12 x 15 x 5 inches deep. Mailer did this with pieces of paper cut to the size of bills. Safire said that now Sinatra owed Mailer $2 million. Mailer replied. “You collect and we’ll share. Frank and I have the same problem. We’re victims of our own hyperbole.”