1998

On 6 May, 50 years to the day after the publication of The Naked and the Dead, Mailer’s anthology of his work, The Time of Our Time, is published and receives a warm reception.

M. Ali, Mailer, Plimpton, JML and Donna (1998)

The publication party, also a celebration of Mailer’s recent 75th birthday, gathers a large crowd at the Rainbow Room of Rockefeller Center, including William Styron, George Plimpton, Kurt Vonnegut, Lillian Ross, all of his family, and a surprise guest, Muhammad Ali.

Time of Our Time party invitation 1998

in Days | 75 Words

98.19

[Flower drawing] In Signature Flowers: A Revealing Collection of Celebrity Drawings, edited by Victoria Leacock. Foreword by Molly Ringwald. Introduction by George Plimpton. New York: Broadway Books. One hundred flowers drawn by celebrities and artists, accompanied by a brief biography.

98.18

“At the Point of My Pen.” In Why I Write: Thoughts on the Craft of Fiction. Edited by Will Blythe, 3-4. Boston: Little, Brown, 1998 Mailer leads of this collection of essays by 26 writers, including Rick Bass, Robert Stone, Richard Ford, and Jayne Anne Phillips. He retells the story about what Jean Malaquais told him about continuing as a writer even though it was torture: “The only time I know the truth,” Malaquais said, “is when it reveals itself at the point of my pen.” Mailer finds this answer to be “incontestably true.” Rpt: MO.

98.17

A Man Half Full.” New York Review of Books, 17 December, 18, 20-23. Review of A Man in Full, by Tom Wolfe. Contains some of Mailer’s most considered and thoughtful comments on novel-writing.

98.16a

“Mailer: Lion and Pussycat.” Article by Matt Nesvisky. Jerusalem Post, 14 December, 20. Report on a wide-ranging talk Mailer gave to an unidentified Jewish audience, including remarks on architecture. Unlike the great cathedrals of Europe, Mailer said that modern buildings are often “a fortress of exclusion that reinforces the insignificance of the individual.” Speaking of his writing life, he said, “For the first 25 years of my writing life, I was drenched on politics. But in the second 25 years of my writing life, I’ve been increasingly concerned with matters of religion and spirituality.” He added that he believed in karma “because I think the economy of the universe doesn’t allow for the experience that our souls have accumulated to just dissipate and go to waste.” Asked about his chances for the Nobel, he mentioned several others, including Roth, Updike, Oates and DeLillo. “There’s lots of worthy candidates. But as for me, well, my time for such things has passed.”

98.16

“Mailer Charms Central Students.” Article-interview by Anthony R. Cannela. Hartford Courant, 6 December, Sec. B, pp. 1, 3. Report, with brief Mailer quotes, of his 4 December visit to Barry Leeds’s Mailer course at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain.

98.15

“Writer Norman Mailer Talks about Religion, Abortion, Clinton.” Article-interview by Joshua Karetny. Daily Pennsylvanian, 3 November, 11. Report on Mailer’s keynote address at the Jewish Book Festival at the Gershwin YM-YWHA in Philadelphia.

98.14b

“Prize Writer.” Article-interview by Lynn Barber. Chicago Sun-Times, 4 October. This interview took place at Mailer’s Brooklyn apartment, and focuses on The Time of Our Time (98.7). Mailer explained that he found some weaknesses in some of his writing when assembling the collection—

something wasn’t as good as I remembered it and then I wanted to cut the hell out of it, and did. You know, there’s a kind of literary sacramentalism that if you write something and it’s fairly good and attracts reputation, you approach it as if the text is all and you must never do anything to alter it. I did the exact opposite,

and goes on to say that only half of “Superman Comes to the Supermarket” stood the test of time.

98.14

Making Books: ‘Private Ryan’ Reviews a Genre.” Article-interview by Martin Arnold. New York Times, 30 July, Sec. E, p.3. Discussion of the “concentrated carnage” in Stephen Spielberg’s film, “Saving Private Ryan” and how it parallels The Naked and the Dead (48.2), which Arnold calls “arguably the greatest combat novel ever written by an American.” Mailer says, “The Second World War was a watershed. Everything is of it, before it or after it. It is a point of reference. It’s still my point of reference.”