Conversations with Norman Mailer, a collection of 34 interviews from 1948-87, edited by J. Michael Lennon, is published on 31 July.

Norman Mailer (1988)

in Days | 19 Words


“Norman Mailer: The Tough Guy is Really a Cuddly Jewish Teddy Bear.” Profile-interview by Pearl Sheffy Gefen. Lifestyles (International Edition), Vol. 92, 62-64. Mailer was interviewed by this Jewish cultural magazine during a visit to Montreal about his film version of Tough Guys Don’t Dance (84.17), and spoke of his film and his Jewishness: “Being Jewish is a whole inner way of life, and the Holocaust took away any possibility of telling myself I wasn’t Jewish.”


“The Changing of the Guard.” Playboy, December, 86-88, 196-98. Advance excerpt from Harlot’s Ghost (91.26). Rpt: This excerpt (taken from the first pages of chapter 2, in “Omega-2,”) is an account of Hubbard’s affair with Chloe. A comparison with the final, book version demonstrates Mailer’s editorial scalpel; hardly a paragraph is untouched.


“Novelists Get the Credits: Mailer, Kennedy Have Reel Clout in Adaptations.” Article-interview by Michael Kilian. Chicago Tribune, 4 November, Sec. 2 (“Tempo”), 2. Mailer and William Kennedy discuss adaptations of their novels to screen at the Virginia Film Festival in Charlottesville, Va. Mailer notes that he hopes Harlot’s Ghost (91.26) will be done in two years.


“Norman Mailer Burning as His Democrats Fiddle.” Article-interview by Mary Ann Grossmann. St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch, 24 October. Telephone interview in advance of Mailer’s 24 October appearance at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. Mailer comments briefly on novel-writing, movie-making, and politics in this error-laden piece. “I thought the ’80s were going to have a little spark,” he said. “Ronald Reagan took care of that. We’ve had watered-down maple syrup for eight years.”


“Lipton’s.” Antaeus, no. 61 (autumn), 259-65. Twenty entries from a private journal prefaced with this statement: “The Journal from which these excerpts are taken went on for close to one hundred thousand words. I would usually write in it on Mondays and Tuesdays after a heavy pot week-end—marijuana was referred to by the not very opaque alias of Lipton’s. Begun on December 1, 1954, the Journal has entries until March 4, 1955.” More information about the journal’s origins can be found in the Fourth Advertisement in Advertisements for Myself [59.13] (Putnam’s, New York, 1959).” Rpt: 17 December 1954 entry in Self, May 1990, 192.


“Fury, Fear, Philosophy: Understanding Mike Tyson.” Spin, September, 40-44, 78. Mailer explains Tyson by reference to his “spiritual father, surrogate father, coach, and training philosopher,” Cus D’Amato.


Conversations with Norman Mailer, edited by J. Michael Lennon. Jackson, Miss.: University Press of Mississippi, 31 July, 396 pp., $26.95.


Collection of 34 previously published interviews, including three self-interviews. Contains introduction, chronology of Mailer’s life and index.

Conversations with NM (1988)


“A Piece of Harlot’s Ghost.” Esquire, July, 80-82, 84-90; cover photograph of Mailer. First advance excerpt from then-unpublished novel (91.26) of the same name about the CIA. Rpt: This excerpt, a much-compressed and altered version of chapters 2 and 3 of “Early Years, Early Training,” part 1 of “The Alpha Manuscript,” describes the Maine rock-climbing of Hubbard and Harlot. The excerpt is accompanied by boxed photographs of Mailer and notes on his career, including the comment that this is “his first fiction for Esquire since An American Dream.” See 64.264.9.



“No, PEN Decides, It Won’t Invite the Pope to Join.” Article by Walter Goodman. New York Times, 17 May, Sec. C, p. 20. Mailer is only paraphrased in this piece, which describes his attempt to convince the American Chapter of PEN to offer an honorary membership to Pope John Paul II based on his recent encyclical, “On Social Concern,” and other writings. He was opposed by PEN’s president Susan Sontag (who succeeded him) and novelist Maureen Howard, and the proposal never made it formally onto the floor.