The Spooky Art, edited by Lennon, is published on Mailer’s 80th birthday, and receives a warm reception, the review of Michiko Kakutani in the New York Times being the largest exception. Mailer writes to the publisher of the Times to complain about how her negative reviews of five consecutive books have appeared earlier than almost all other reviews, thus creating a negative atmosphere.
Modest Gifts: Poems and Drawings is published in early spring, and on 7 April, Why Are We at War? a collection of his fulminations against the Iraq War and the presidency of George W. Bush, is published.
In June, he and Lennon begin taping a series of ten conversations about his spiritual beliefs that will later be published as On God: An Uncommon Conversation.
Following the first meeting of the Norman Mailer Society in Brooklyn, Mailer and Norris entertain all attending at his Brooklyn Heights Apartment.
“A Riff on Hemingway.” Paris Review, no. 167 (fall 2003), 267-70. Fiftieth Anniversary Number. Poems (with editor’s title). First published in Modest Gifts: Poems and Drawings (03.17), where they were slightly different. It is possible, even likely, that they were submitted to Paris Review before Modest Gifts was published.
“Bush and Terror: an Exchange.” Comment on “The White Man Unburdened” (03.21) by Ronald Tiersky and Mailer’s 1200-word reply. New York Review of Books, 14 August, 41-42.
“Norman Mailer Gets Moral.” Interview by Tim McCarthy. Life in Provincetown magazine, 14 August, 10-11, 14, 22. Mailer’s comments are evenly divided between his warm memories of Provincetown, where he wrote parts of all but five or six of his books, and his theological views: “We were created in God’s image, because we are the infantry of God’s vision.”
“A ‘Long Day’s Journey’ with the Mailers.” Brief article by Jesse Green. New York Times, 10 August, 5. Report on the staged reading of Eugene O’Neill’s play, Long Day’s Journey into Night in Provincetown to benefit the local repertory theater. Three of his children joined Mailer and his wife Norris in the reading. Mailer said, “I expect us to be considerably better as a theatrical ensemble than as a basketball team.”
“Our Town.” Interview by Joseph P. Kahn. Boston Globe Magazine “Special Issue, New Perspective on Cape Cod,” 22 June, 19. Along with Michael Lee, Robert Pinsky, Mary Higgins Clark, Susan Baker, Joel Meyerowitz and a half-dozen others, Mailer talks about the Cape. “All through the war,” he said, “I dreamed of coming back [to Provincetown]. Then to come here, my lord, it had the feel of 1790.”
“Edge Profile: Norman Mailer.” Profile-interview by J. Rentily. Razor magazine, June, 54-55. Mailer speaks of his desire to continue writing: “There are so many books to write. So many books to write. I know my body is old. But my brain is not too old, maybe 50.” As for his legacy: “I’ll last or I won’t last. It’s the one thing you can’t really predict, because history takes turns. There are certain writers who are so great you can never throw them off. I’m not in that category. I may last or I may not last.”
“Our Religion Is Called America.” Interview with Der Spiegel. Published Sometime in May or June. Six-page transcript. Mailer speaks at length about the “Christian warrior,” George W. Bush, and his motives for the Iraq War. He notes at the end that the novel he is working on is not a continuation of Harlot’s Ghost (91.26).
“We Went to War Just to Boost the Male Ego.” The Times (London), 29 April, 20 (subscription required). Essay of approximately 1500 words in which Mailer argues that Pres. Bush went to war because “we very much needed a war” to offset the sinking economy, the loss of face resulting from scandals in the Catholic Church, the greed of U.S. corporations, and behind all these was the need to bolster the sagging machismo of white American males. An expanded version of this essay appeared in the New York Review of Books, 7 July 2003, under the title, “The White Man Unburdened.” Rpt: 13.1.
“Only in America.” Commonwealth, 15 April, 13-20. Polemical speech against the Iraq War given on 20 February at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, accompanied by a Q and A with Barbara Lane on pages 20-22. Rpt. Along with 02.9 and 02.10 in Why Are We at War? (03.18).