1989

In February and March, attends meetings and writes statements in support of Salman Rushdie.

On 11 October, he receives the Emerson-Thoreau Medal for distinguished achievement in literature from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Helen Vendler, NM, Leo L. Beranek (1989)

Mailer and Castro (1989)

in Days | 34 Words

89.14

“Norman Mailer: Ten Favorite American Novels.” The Reader’s Catalog: An Annotated Selection of More than 40,000 of the Best Books in Print in 208 Categories. Edited by Geoffrey O’Brien with Stephen Wasserstein and Helen Morris. New York: Jason Epstein/Random House. Mailer’s ten favorite American novels are in a box on page 259, one of a number of such brightener inserts in this mammoth catalog. He notes that except for Huckleberry Finn, he read the other nine in his first year of college: “Freshman year at Harvard is luminous because of these books.” They are, in his order of importance: U.S.A., Huckleberry Finn, Studs Lonigan, Look Homeward, Angel, The Grapes of Wrath, The Great Gatsby, The Sun Also Rises, Appointment in Samarra, The Postman Always Rings Twice, Moby-Dick. See 99.11, in which he lists the same books, same order. See also 99.10, 07.44, 09.4.

89.13

Introduction to Messages: New and Selected Poems, 1969-1989, by Luke Breit, 5-8. Fort Bragg, CA: Q.E.D. Press, 1989. Softcover. Mailer praises Bret (son of Mailer’s friend, the late Harvey Breit) for being “one of the best romantic poets we’ve got” and for giving him a lift. “Luke Breit is Doctor Breit, Traffic Consultant for locked-up synapses and fucked-up grace.” Rpt: Project Mailer.

Luke Breit "Messages"

89.12

“Norman Mailer Complains about Mention in ‘Tru.’” Article by Glenn Collins. New York Times, 21 December, 28. Report on a disagreement between Mailer and Jay Presson Allen, author of “Tru,” a one-man Broadway play about Truman Capote, starring Robert Morse.

89.11

“Cosmic Ventures: A Meditation of God at War.” Esquire, December, 156-57. Mailer refines his ideas on the nature of God first given in “Hip, Hell and the Navigator” (59.2): “It has occurred to me since, despite my reputation as a male chauvinist, that God may be referred to as ‘She’ as legitimately (for all we know) as ‘He,’ or, even better, as ‘They,’ if one can conceive of divinity as marriage between a godlike Male and Female, a marriage, indeed that may not work a great deal better than the majority of ours!” Rpt: Living Philosophies: The Reflections of Some Eminent Men and Women of Our Time, edited by Clifton Fadiman. New York: Doubleday, 1990. See 75.2, 75.11, 82.15, 83.45.

89.10

Harlot’s Ghost: An Excerpt.” Story 37 (Autumn), 10-13. Advance excerpt from novel of same title (91.26). In a note prefacing this excerpt (which erroneously notes that Mailer was a chemistry major at Harvard), Mailer is quoted on the importance of winning the Story college short story contest in 1941: “Obviously it was one of the most important experiences of my life up to then. In those days, for a young writer to be published in Story was enough to give you the beginning of a real certainty that perhaps you were meant to be a writer.” Rpt: This excerpt (taken from the conclusion of chapter 1, part 1, “Early Years, Early Training,” of “The Alpha Manuscript”) describes a lunch at “21.” In the final version, Mailer makes several small but significant changes. See 41.1.

89.9

“Checking In with Norman Mailer.” Interview with Carole Mallory. Smart, September-October, 96-102. Wide-ranging interview: his novel-in-progress, Harlot’s Ghost (91.26), Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities, E.L. Doctorow’s Billy Bathgate, the media, greed and wealth in the 80s, his directorial aspirations, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and abortion.

89.8

“A Folly Repeated: On Conviction and Creative Freedom, as Reflected by the Salman Rushdie Controversy.” Writer’s Digest, July, 80, 78-79. Full statement read in New York on 22 February at a meeting of hundreds of writers in support of Salman Rushdie. Some of the writers present were Larry McMurtry, Don DeLillo, E.L. Doctorow, Susan Sontag, Gay Talese, Joan Didion, Diana Trilling, John Gregory Dunne, Edward Said, Mary Gordon, Robert Stone and Robert Caro. Rpt: 89.2; Salman Rushdie: Sentenced to Death, by W.J. Weatherby. New York: Carroll and Graf, 1990 (partial); 98.7. See 89.389.5, 93.9.

89.7

“Books: Moonraker.” Interview by Tom Piazza.” Omni, July, 18, 78. Mailer revisits some of the questions he raised in Of a Fire on the Moon (71.1), including the ultimate one: was Apollo 11 a noble or an insane venture?

89.6a

Letter to the Editor. The Humanist, July/August. Mailer’s updates his definition of what a humanist is (his old one appeared in the October-November, 1951 issue), by stating that the Impressionist and post-Impressionists  “were still painting out of a world where proportions of the human himself” were still in evidence, whereas in the current period art “is something much larger, much colder, and certainly more apathetic” to human life. Rpt: SLNM.