Pieces and Pontifications, his fifth miscellany, including 12 essays and 20 interviews, and edited by J. Michael Lennon, is published on 21 June.

A TV miniseries of The Executioner’s Song, produced and directed by Schiller, airs in November. Mailer writes the screenplay.

Mailer: A Biography, by Hilary Mills, is published.

Norman Mailer (1982)

in Days | 48 Words


Foreword to Dear Muffo [Bob Musel]: 35 Years in the Fast Lane, by Harold Conrad, xix-xxii. Introduction by Budd Schulberg. New York: Stein and Day. Rpt: Project Mailer.


Contribution to Happy Birthday, Kurt Vonnegut: A Festschrift for Kurt Vonnegut on His Sixtieth Birthday, compiled by Jill Krementz, 99. New York: Delacorte. Five hundred numbered copies. In 147 words, Mailer talks of his pleasure in dining with Vonnegut, who “is almost a dead ringer in physical appearance for Mark Twain.”


“From ‘A Work in Progress.’” Paris Review, no. 86 (winter), 10-14. First advance excerpt from Ancient Evenings (83.18), taken, according to a note, from the installment forthcoming in Playboy, although the selection does not appear in either Playboy excerpt (83.17 and 83.28). An “Author’s Note” explains the seven parts of the soul delineated by the ancient Egyptians, an explanation necessary to follow the description of the embalming process (from the point of view of the embalmee). Rpt: Appearing several months before the novel, this excerpt is taken from chapter 5 of book I, “The Book of One Man Dead.”


Interview by Hilary Mills. In Mailer: A Biography, by Hilary Mills, passim. New York: Empire Books, mid-November. First book-length biography of Mailer. Valuable for its interviews with several of his wives, including his first, Beatrice Silverman, and a number of his friends and acquaintances including Jean Malaquais, Scott Meredith, George Plimpton, Dwight Macdonald, Mickey Knox, Vance and Tina Bourjaily, John W. Aldridge, Gore Vidal, Joe Flaherty, Walter Minton, James Baldwin, Seymour Krim, Jason Epstein, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Roger Donald, Gloria Jones, Pete Hamill, Milton Greene, Jimmy Breslin, Larry Alson, Daniel Wolf, William and Rose Styron, Adeline Lubell, Harold Hayes, Rust Hills, Midge Decter, Norman Podhoretz, Willie Morris, Abbie Hoffman, Dotson Rader, Buzz Farbar, and José Torres. Mills’s biography contains little new material from Mailer himself, but many important perspectives from family and friends. Mills is fair, but not always accurate or alive to nuance. Her method of documentation is sometimes difficult to follow, but her pioneering biography is foundational. See 81.2, 83.31, 83.50, 84.5.


“Norman Mailer Tackles the Screen.” Article-interview by William Wolf. New York, 8 November, 86-87. Interviewed about the film version of The Executioner’s Song (79.13), Mailer says that the execution scene “just knocks me down every time I see it.” Asked if he considered departing from the book in his screenplay, he said, “I’m not sure it could be done in a good way, because what you had there was invaluable. There was a flavor of the real. How do you throw away the book? Do you write an imaginary story about a man like Gary Gilmore? Then you’re throwing away the reality.”


“How Novels Get Titles.” Article by Robert F. Moss. New York Times Book Review, 7 November, 13, 18. Mailer explains that Stanley Rinehart, his publisher, thought that The Naked and the Dead (48.2) was “a dreadful title,” in an article for which a dozen contemporary writers, including Eudora Welty, Joyce Carol Oates, Anne Tyler, Walker Percy, Robert Penn Warren and William Styron, were canvassed. Mailer also reveals that his working title for The Executioner’s Song (79.14) was “The Saint and the Psychopath.”


“A Vintage Mailer Performance.” Article by Mark Muro. Boston Globe, 5 November, 21-22. Account of Mailer’s exchanges with the audience after a showing of Maidstone (71.28). See 82.19a82.20.


“Cinema’s Wild Man: Mailer Movies at Coolidge Corner.” Article-interview by Paul Restuccia. Boston Herald American, 5 November, Sec. B, p. 6. Mailer comments on his films after a showing of Maidstone (71.28) by the Institute of Contemporary Art at Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline, Mass., and later at a bar. He says: “One reason I started making films was that I was upset about the movies made from my books….I knew ‘An American Dream’ wasn’t going to be very good because the novel [65.7] took place in New York and they filmed it in L.A. Anybody who could do that doesn’t know lox from tuna salad.” See 82.19a82.21.


“Mailer to Show His Movies.” Article-interview by George McKinnon. Boston Globe, 29 October, 24. In a discussion of the upcoming showing of his films in Boston, Mailer explains that they have not been shown in 10 years, and he’s “curious to see whether I was 10 years ahead of my time or 20 years behind.” See 82.20, 82.21.