2000

Norris learns she has intestinal cancer and undergoes the first of several operations. Mailer is beset with various health problems: angina, arthritis, macular degeneration, hearing loss and a hip replacement.

In July, he completes a teleplay based on an account of the trial of O.J. Simpson, American Tragedy: The Uncensored Story of the Simpson Defense by Schiller and James Willworth.

Begins writing his Hitler novel, The Castle in the Forest.

Tom Wolfe responds to negative reviews of his 1998 novel, A Man in Full, by Mailer, John Updike, and John Irving in a long essay, published in his 2000 collection, Hooking Up; the trio of detractors responds sharply.

Norman Mailer (2000)

in Days | 107 Words

00.14

Untitled contribution in the “Sense of Place” chapter of Three Minutes or Less: Life Lessons from America’s Greatest Writers, 20-21. From the archives of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation. New York, Bloomsbury, 2000. “When you’re writing,” Mailer says in his preface to this brief excerpt describing Provincetown in the late fall from Tough Guys Don’t Dance (84.17), “there’s nothing more difficult than to come up with a good description of place.”

00.13

[Untitled statement about Norris Church and their marriage] In Couples: Speaking from the Heart, 54-55. Photographs of couples by Mariana Cook. Introduction by Paul Riceour. San Francisco, Chronicle Books. A statement from each partner in 87 different relationships about life with the other person accompanies a photo of them together. Mailer states that Norris is “so strong, so beautiful, so centered. She is in command.” He describes himself as “much older” and “overweight; his pants will soon be very wrinkled.” She says that they have been together for 21 years, and explains how they met, and that when he told her at their first meeting how attractive she was, she answered, “You certainly know how to deliver a good line, Mr. Mailer.”

00.12

“Norman Mailer Interview.” Article-interview by Romana Koval, presenter of the Australian program, Radio National’s Books and Writing. Based on an interview she conducted with Mailer at the Edinburgh International book Festival. First broadcast on 1 September 2000. Internet printout is 12 pages in length. Many subjects are tackled in this important omnibus interview, including the New Journalism, first and third person points of view, feminism and the sexual revolution, the 2000 presidential election, boxing, Mailer’s engineering education, and what it means to be a left conservative. Rpt: Speaking Volumes: Conversations with Remarkable Writers. Victoria, Australia: Scribe Publishers, and (partial) The Spooky Art (03.7).

00.11

“Tough Guys Don’t Twitch.” Article by Sebastian Smee. Panorama (Complimentary magazine of Ansett Australia Airline), August, 24-29. Account of the joint appearance of Mailer and Martin Amis at a New Yorker literary festival in a Manhattan synagogue, hosted by editor David Remnick. Amis begins: “When I read Mailer as a young man, I thought: ‘This guy’s trying to influence me.’ Like every writer of my generation, I’ve had to toil with the unstoppable and unignorable energy of Norman Mailer.” After Amis reads a short story, Mailer is introduced and “the American Balzac” by Remnick, and then reads from his essay “Of a Small and Modest Malignancy, Wicked and Bristling with Dots” (77.7).

00.10

Der Spiegel interview with Norman Mailer. Transcript, dated 10 October, 13 pp. Publication date unknown. Mailer speaks of the stabbing of his wife Adele: “Many years ago I stabbed my wife with a penknife. Up to the time of that act, I had always thought I was a good man, a decent man, and in fact better than most of the species. Suddenly this incomprehensible catastrophe.” Mailer also discusses Wagner and German culture, the Gulf War, Clinton and Monica Lewinsky (he compares Clinton to Ramses II exposing his huge erect penis at religious festivals 3,000 years ago), the Bush-Gore presidential race, Thomas Mann, and modern architecture.

00.9

“God’s Foot Soldier.” Article-interview by David Aaronovitch. Independent on Sunday, 20 August, 4-5. In this 14 August interview at the International book Festival in Edinburgh, Mailer rips corporate capitalism, which he says, “just depends on money; it doesn’t depend on competition anymore.” He also criticizes the left:

There are elements of the left that are absolutely atrocious. The politically correct people. Remnants of Marxists, feminists, the gay theoreticians, they’re all politically correct, and they’re all a total pain in the ass, and their dangerous, totalitarian mindset.

Asked during a discussion of religion if he sees himself as one of God’s Soldiers, he says,

I certainly don’t get intimations from above. I don’t want to see myself as a God-driven man. Or a God engendered man. No I just . . . [pauses] the feeling that I have is that this creation is so extraordinary that something has been going on, maybe not for millions of years, but for the last 100,000. And we may just poison it and kill it with our technology.

Toward the end, he says,

There are two sides to me, and the side that is the observer is paramount.” He closes by speaking of his new, still-secret work: “It’s the kind of book that will excite questions. Besides it’s a tough book. Tougher than anything I’ve ever tackled. Let’s see if I can do it. It’s 50-50.

00.8

At 77, Mailer gives up on the Sexual Revolution.” Article by Fiachra Gibbons. Guardian, 15 August. Report on Mailer’s appearance at the Edinburg Literary Festival. Mailer said, “Women have won everything. Men have sunk into their dugouts and pulled the metal covers over while women are rampaging over them.” He also spoke at some length about President Clinton, with whom he sympathized over the Monica Lewinsky affair: “Mon frere, I thought, I’d have done it myself.” But he also criticized Clinton for “the dreadful way he kissed up to the corporations and did away with poor people’s welfare, but not the corporations’ welfare.”

00.7

“Still Stormin.’” Article-interview by Alastair McKay The Scotsman, S2 Weekend, 22 July, 2-5. Mailer speaks at length about the opportunities and pitfalls of celebrity: “It isn’t that agreeable having the fame, but it sure is disagreeable losing it.” He also speaks gloomily about the failure of some of his ideas: “The fact is that everything I’ve hated has triumphed and succeeded,” and mentions plastic, superhighways and modern architecture.

00.6

“Mailer Approves of a Woman President—If She’s ‘Impressive.’” AP wire story, 18 July. Besides his comment about the qualities of a woman presidential candidate, Mailer reveals that he is working on a new book: “It’s a secret what this book is about, and it’s big.” The book is The Castle in the Forest (07.10), which he began writing seven or eight months earlier, after at least two years of research.