Begins work on a collection, The Spooky Art: Some Thoughts on Writing, consisting of excerpts from his essays, interviews and other works on the publishing world, the psychology of the writerly life, and literary techniques, with an emphasis on the role of the unconscious.
In February, Jack Abbott commits suicide in prison. Mailer issues a statement saying that Abbott’s life “was tragic from beginning to end.”
In October, Gore Vidal and Mailer reprise Don Juan in Hell, joined by Norris and Lennon, in a benefit for the Provincetown Theater. Vidal, as the Devil, steals the show, and Mailer says his old friend was “almost as good as Charles Laughton in the role.”
In December he caps a year of comment on the causes and effects of 9/11 with a long conversation on the topic with another old friend, Dotson Rader, published in the (London) Sunday Times Magazine.
“Norman Mailer.” In John Steinbeck: Centennial Reflections by American Writers, edited by Susan Shillinglaw, 62. San Jose, CA: San Jose State University. In a 219-word contribution, Mailer expresses his admiration for Steinbeck, especially for his “marvelous and ironic sense of compassion, never sentimental but daring all the time.”
Foreword to Unholy Alliance: A History of Nazi Involvement with the Occult, by Peter Levenda, 1-4. 2nd ed. New York Continuum. Mailer notes that he has read Levenda’s book three times and gives an enthusiastic endorsement to his detailed exploration of the occultists who interacted with the Nazis.
“Birds and Lions: Writing from the Inside Out.” Advance excerpt from The Spooky Art (03.7). New Yorker, 23 & 30 December, 76, 81-82, 84.
“A Founding Father Expresses Outrage.” Letter to the Editor. Cape Cod Voice, 5-18 December, 47. In a brief letter, Mailer, who named and co-founded The Village Voice in 1955, expressed his support for this Cape Cod paper, which was sued by the Voice for name infringement. The Voice lost.
“I Am Not for World Empire: A Conversation with Norman Mailer about Iraq, Israel, the Perils of Technology and Why He Is a Left-Conservative.” By Kara Hopkins, Scott McConnell, and Taki Theodoracopulos. American Conservative, 2 December, 8-18. Long, impassioned discussion in Provincetown of the impending war with Iraq, with digressions on technology, the nature of American conservatism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Rpt: Why Are We at War? (03.18). See 03.20.
“9/11: Speaking Out: Norman Mailer Talks to Dotson Rader.” Sunday Times Magazine (London), 19 September. A long, edited conversation between Mailer and his close friend Dotson Rader about the devastating impact of 9/11 on America, the failure of its leaders, and the greed that Mailer feels may be the cause of the American malaise. The piece begins with a highlighted Mailer quote from the conversation: “There’s just too much anger, too much ruptured vanity, too much shock, too much identity crisis. And worst of all, too much patriotism. Patriotism in a country that’s failing has a logical tendency to turn fascistic.” Rpt: Why Are We at War? (03.18). See 03.20.
“Manso’s Many Untruths.” Letter to the Editor. Provincetown Banner, 16 May, 8. Mailer comments on Sue Harrison’s review of Peter Manso’s portrait of Provincetown in his book, Ptown: Art, Sex and Money on the Outer Cape (New York: Scribner’s, 2003): “I will now state that every remark or action he has attributed to me that I have read about . . . is wholly and totally untrue.” Mailer goes on to say that his “private term” for Manso, who compiled an oral biography of Mailer, Mailer: His Life and Times (85.13), “might be ‘poison-drip.’” See 00.1. Rpt: Playboy, January 2009.
Into the Mirror: The Life of Master Spy Robert P. Hanssen, by Lawrence Schiller. New York: HarperCollins, early May. 317 pp. Based on an investigation by Norman Mailer and Lawrence Schiller. Schiller transformed Mailer’s screenplay for a four-hour television miniseries, titled Master Spy: The Robert Hanssen Story, into this book, which appeared before the miniseries aired on 10 and 17 November 2001. Mailer and Schiller performed a lengthy investigation for the project, including a trip to Russia to speak with Hanssen’s KGB handlers.
“11 September was ‘larger than the atom bomb.’” BBC News interview, 4 April. Mailer says that Muslim culture and religiosity are “absolutely foreign to Americans.” Most people in Islam, he continues, feel that
the world is a total bloody mess, most of us are poor. Those who are rich at the top are awful and corrupt. We have this abominable life, but we have Heaven if we live, and die, especially, for Allah. What you’ve got is a huge war shaping, in which you’ve got—let me speak like a Jamaican for a moment—we’ve got Allah versus the Almighty Dollah.
He also criticizes President Bush for repeating the word “evil” over and over.