1991

In March, accepts the position of writer-at-large at Vanity Fair.

In late October, Harlot’s Ghost is published after advance excerpts appear in nine publications, including Esquire, Playboy, Rolling Stone and Partisan Review.

On 13 November, he receives the New York State Edith Wharton Citation of Merit, and becomes New York State Author for a two-year term.

Begins work on Portrait of Picasso as a Young Man. Norris leaves him after learning of his philandering, but they are reconciled after a few months.

Norman Mailer (1991)

in Days | 82 Words

91.52

Foreword to Presences: Photographs of Heaton Hall, by Beverly Anoux Pabst. Torino, Italy, Stamperia Artistic Nazionale, 1991. Softcover, no pagination. In his evocative three-page foreword, Mailer calls Pabst’s 45 photographs of this empty (and later razed) resort hotel in the Berkshires “the spookiest book of photographs I have seen,” and “one of the more eloquent.” He also makes the claim that “in searching for the occult, a photograph can be of more use than a painting.”

91.51

“A Letter from Norman Mailer.” In Hockney’s Alphabet, edited by Stephen Spender, 17-19. Drawings by David Hockney. New York: Random House in Association with the American Friends of AIDS Crisis Trust. Mailer and 25 other writers provide reflections on the letters of the alphabet. Mailer is given “F” and says, “I am sure you are aware what a compliment you are paying me with that letter—ahhh, the fonts of fucking.”

91.50

“A Talk with Norman Mailer.” Article-interview by W. David Atwood. Book-of-the-Month Club Book News, December, 11. Brief piece in which Mailer says, “It was my intention to write a novel that would give the reader a good and detailed sense of what it might be like to live and work in the CIA.”

91.49

“Norman Mailer: Stormin’ No More.” Article-interview by Joan Smith. San Francisco Examiner, 24 November, Sec. D (“Style”), pp. 1, 4. In San Francisco on the publicity tour for 91.26, Mailer talks to the media in his suite at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

91.48

“A Critic with Balance: A Letter from Norman Mailer.” New York Times Book Review, 17 November, 7. Mailer’s 1500-word response to John Simon’s 29 September review of 91.26 provides quotes from other, earlier negative reviews of Mailer’s books by Simon, as well as his negative review of Kate Mailer’s 1988 performance in Peter Brook’s version of Anton Chekov’s “The Cherry Orchard.” Simon replies to what he calls Mailer’s “irrelevant hue and cry” on p. 38 of the Review; Rebecca Sinkler, Review editor, adds her comments on the same page, noting that the editors were not aware of all the previous Simon reviews of Mailer’s work when they assigned the review to him, after four others turned down the assignment. See 91.1491.16, 91.19, 91.43.

91.47a

“State Poet Blasts Political Priorities.” Article by Paul Grondahl. Albany Times-Union, 14 November. Report on Mailer being named New York State author, and Audre Lorde state poet. Gov. Mario Cuomo made the presentations. Asked if Cuomo could beat George W. Bush, Mailer said: “Hell, yeah. If there are enough serious people out there who will vote, there’s no way George Bush could be Mario Cuomo.”

91.47

“Mailer Dubbed Big Apple’s Author.” Article by Associated Press writer. Newport (R.I.) Daily News, 14 November. Mailer is quoted briefly in this report on his 13 November appointment by Governor Mario Cuomo as New York State Author, which came with a $10,000 prize. Audre Lorde was appointed state poet on the same day, the report notes. On the occasion, Mailer was introduced by William Kennedy, who reprinted his introduction in his collection, Riding the Yellow Trolley Car: Selected Nonfiction (New York: Viking, 1993).

91.46

“Mr. Mailer’s Love-Fest.” Column by Liz Smith. Newsday, 3 November. Report on party at New York’s “21” given by Random House chief, Harry Evans, to celebrate the publication of 91.26. Mailer was extolled by Evans, Richard Snyder of Simon and Schuster and Salman Rushdie, whose letter was read. Rushdie called Mailer “literature’s chief gladiator,” and said he “has to be judged by the highest standards. To hell with buts and maybes.” The column also reported that 91.26 was on the bestseller lists nationwide. Mailer is quoted briefly.

91.45

“The Warren Report.” Vanity Fair, November, 174-80, 224, 226, 228, 230, 232-33. Long interview with Warren Beatty, conducted in the summer of 1991.