At the invitation of John Irving, Mailer, Norris and George Plimpton perform a staged reading of Zelda, Scott and Ernest in Manchester, VT. The play, written by Plimpton and Tom Quinn, is drawn entirely from the correspondence of Ernest Hemingway (played by Mailer), F. Scott Fitzgerald (Plimpton), and Zelda Fitzgerald (Norris). Over the next two years the trio will give over a dozen performances in the U.S. and Europe.
He responds to the 9/11 tragedy with a series of interviews and essays, including one in the Times of London on 13 September.
Between performances of the play, Mailer and Schiller travel together and research the story of F.B.I. agent Robert Hanssen, who is arrested and convicted of spying for the Russians.
Mailer’s teleplay is completed in November and broadcast on CBS the same month. Schiller transforms the teleplay into a narrative, Into the Mirror: The Life of Master Spy Robert P. Hanssen, which is published the following year.
“It Seems a Bit Impolite for the U.S. to Wave the Flag in the Whole World’s Face.” Opinion piece by E.R. Shipp. New York Daily News, 18 February. Shipp quotes Mailer’s comments about excessive patriotism from an unnamed British newspaper: “Has there ever been a big, powerful country that is as patriotic as America? And patriotic in the tinniest way, with so much flag-waving?” He continues saying that real patriotism carries “the obligation to improve all the time, not to stop and take bows and smell its armpits and say, ‘Ambrosia!’”
“Norman Mailer: Stupidity Brings Out Violence in Me.” Interview by Lawrence Groebel. In Endangered Species: Writers Talk about Their Craft, Their Visions, Their Lives, edited by Lawrence Groebel, 289-316. Cambridge, MA: DaCapo Press. Focus is on violence, the craft of writing, and Mailer’s views of several other writers, Vidal and Capote, most notably. Rpt: (partial) The Spooky Art (03.7).
Foreword to Enduring Justice: Photographs, by Thomas Roma. N.p. New York: Powerhouse Books. One-page foreword on the power of Roma’s black-and-white photographs taken at the Brooklyn Criminal Court Building from 1997 to 1999. Rpt: Talk magazine, August, 2001, 110; Project Mailer.
“Epstein Looks Back—and Ahead—at Publishing.” Article-interview by Hillel Italie. AP wire story, 25 November. Epstein talks at length about the future of digital publishing, and also describes Mailer when he first knew him: “Brilliant, difficult, dangerous . . . You never know if he was going to hit you or kiss you. But he had a wonderful mind. What you look for in these people is originality, a voice nobody had before.” The writer asked Mailer about Epstein: “He’s so damned intelligent. I wasn’t used to working with someone who might be a lot brighter than I am.”
“‘The Wisdom of a Serious Redneck’: Norman Mailer Remembers James Jones,” edited by J. Michael Lennon. James Jones Literary Society Newsletter 10, no. 4, fall, 2-4. An edited transcription of Mailer’s remarks made by Mailer at a 1999 Jones Society symposium at Long Island University. In this long, fascinating talk, Mailer recounts the circumstances of his intense friendship with Jones, including his first meeting with him (see 99.4), and his feelings after reading the galleys of From Here to Eternity in 1951: “So I sat down and read this book and I want to tell you, I truly suffered. I suffered because it was too damn good. I was very happy whenever I came across somewhere I could say, ‘Oh, I could do that better.’ On the other hand, there were any number of things where I thought, ‘Oh, he knows more about that than I do.’” Mailer gave the novel a warm blurb.
“Norman and Norris Mailer Seem Letter-Perfect for Roles of Literary Legends Who Lived Large.” Article-interview by Debbie Foreman. Cape Cod Times, 15 September, B1-B2. Both Mailers discuss the dramatic dialogue, “Zelda, Scott and Ernest,” they will present with George Plimpton later in September in Provincetown. Of Hemingway, Mailer says:
He changed the ways in which we perceive things, and he changed the way in which we write. Either one is enough to make you a great writer. What he lacks—all great writers lack something—is a certain charity of mind. He was very narrow-minded, and so that shows in his work. But on the other hand, it also gives that intensity, that luster, that patina that you think of when you feel Hemingway’s prose.
See 01.2, 02.1.
“Ruin More Beautiful than the Building.” Article-interview by Ann Treneman. (London) Times, 13 September. Mailer comments on the attack on the World Trade Centre. He described the buildings before the attack a “two huge buck teeth” and said the ruin was more striking. He watched the event unfold on television non-stop for several hours in his Provincetown home, something that “only happens a few times in your life. Jack Kennedy. Martin Luther King. Maybe ten times.” He excoriates terrorism, but then goes on to say that “what Americans refuse to recognize is that large parts of the world, particularly the most backward nations, see us as cultural oppressors and aesthetic oppressors” who build “high-rise hotels and buildings around their airports.” His conclusion: “We are going to be the most hated nation on earth.”
“Review: Zelda, Scott and Ernest.” By Dan Rattiner. Dan’s Papers, 31 August, 57. Following his review of George Plimpton’s and Terry Quinn’s dramatic dialogue based on the letters of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway (portrayed, respectively, by Plimpton, Norris Church Mailer and Mailer), are some quotes from the Q and A following the 26 August performance at Guild Hall in East Hampton, NY. Plimpton recalled how he tried and failed to set up a meeting between Mailer and Hemingway, and Mailer said, “I was really quite worried about what would happen if we were to meet. I called a friend [Mickey Knox] I knew, a rough tough guy, and asked him to come over and spend the day with me, and he did. I wanted to be ready.” See 01.4, 02.1, MDL, 715-18.
“A Conversation with Norman Mailer.” By Michael Lee. Cape Cod Voice, 2-5 August, 12-13, 53-54. Long, penetrating interview in which Mailer discusses the shape of his career, John Cheever, his Provincetown friend, poet Eddie Bonetti, and much more. At the outset, he says,
I used to feel that I didn’t know anything because I got too rich too soon. I used to feel sorry for myself, but now I look back and I’m uneasy about those feelings because the truth is I had the time to store things and use a certain amount of leisure.