The Spooky Art: Some Thoughts on Writing. New York: Random House, 31 January. Essays and interviews. 330 pp. $24.95.

The Spooky Art (2003)

Dedication: “To J. Michael Lennon.”

Contains excerpts from approximately 190 previously published items by Mailer, plus 50 new items written expressly for this book. The great majority of the questions from interviewers were incorporated by Mailer into his replies. Mailer:

It is interesting that my ceremonial sense intensifies as I grow older, and so I have looked to assemble this book in time for it to come out on January 31, 2003. I will be exactly eighty years old on that occasion. I would hope I am not looking for unwarranted easy treatment by this last remark. Can I possibly be speaking the truth?


Pieces and Pontifications (Pontifications edited with introduction by Michael Lennon). Boston: Little, Brown, 21 June; simultaneously as two softcovers, Pieces and Pontifications; Sevenoaks, Kent: New English Library, July 1983. Essays (208 pp.) and Interviews (192 pp.), respectively, $20


Dedication: “For my sister, Barbara.” Discarded titles: “After ‘The White Negro’”; “Sinking in the Seventies.” Most of the interviews in Pieces were trimmed by Mailer. Rpt: A number of the essays and interviews are reprinted in The Time of Our Time (98.7). See 76.15.


Here, then, are two sides of myself as I survived the Seventies—my literary ghost looking for that little refinement of one’s art which becomes essential as one grows older, and the cry of the street debater, front and center, who always speaks in the loudest voice. (82.16)


Existential Errands. Boston: Little, Brown, 17 April; Sevenoaks, Kent: New English Library, August 1982. Miscellany, 365 pp., $7.95.

The British edition combines 72.7 with The Short Fiction of Norman Mailer (67.11) under the title The Essential Mailer (82.19).

Existential Errands (1972)

Dedication: “To Barbara, to Susan, to Adeline, and to Al.” Rpt: 98.7 (partial).


This collection covers pieces written almost entirely in the last five years, a period in which The Deer Park as a play [67.13] was given its last draft and then produced, Why Are We in Vietnam? [67.15] was written and then The Armies of the Night [68.8], Miami and the Siege of Chicago [68.25], Of a Fire on the Moon [71.1] and The Prisoner of Sex [71.20]. Three movies [Wild 90, Beyond the Law and Maidstone] were also made. So it is a period when, with every thought of beginning a certain big novel which had been promised for a long time, the moot desire to have one’s immediate say on contemporary matters kept diverting the novelistic impulse into journalism. (72.7)

Of the six books named above all but The Deer Park: A Play were nominated for a National Book Award in four different categories. The Armies of the Night won for arts and letters, and a Pulitzer Prize in general nonfiction as well.


Running against the Machine: A Grass Roots Race for the New York Mayoralty by Norman Mailer, Jimmy Breslin, Peter Maas, Gloria Steinem and others. Edited by Peter Manso. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, late August; simultaneously as a softcover. Miscellany, 313 pp., $6.95. Articles, debates, interviews, position papers, speeches and columns concerning the campaign of Mailer and Breslin for the Democratic nomination for mayor and City Council president of New York, respectively. One-paragraph preface, dated 22 July, from Mailer ending with a dedication “to the hard-working staff and the enthusiastic volunteers of the Mailer-Breslin Campaign.”


The Idol and the Octopus: Political Writings by Norman Mailer on the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations. New York: Dell, 6 June, softcover. Miscellany, 284 pp., 95¢.


No dedication. In a note appended to the foreword, Mailer explains that the title “was once to be used for The Deer Park [55.4]. The Idol was to represent Charles Francis Eitel, the artist; the Octopus was Herman Teppis, the producer, the man of power. Here I use it to characterize two administrations, The Idol and The Octopus,” or J.F.K. and L.B.J.

Rpt: Except for the foreword and some brief introductory and transition material, the bulk of this collection consists of selections from The Presidential Papers (63.37) and Cannibals and Christians (66.11). The most notable exception is “On Lady Chatterley and Tropic of Cancer” (168-70), which gives hints of his later comments on D.H. Lawrence in 71.20 and Henry Miller in 71.20 and 76.12.


Cannibals and Christians. New York: Dial, 29 August, 1967. Miscellany, 400 pp., $5.95.

London: Deutsch (minus all but one of the 54 poems in the American edition, which were restored in later editions, those lacking an “A” on the inside back flap of the dustwrapper and the truncated introduction of the first state).

Cannibals and Christians (1967)

Dedication: “To Lyndon B. Johnson, whose name inspired young men to cheer for me in public.” The acknowledgments note that “Ministers of Taste,” letters to Robert B. Silvers, editor of the New York Review of Books, appeared in Partisan Review. An extensive search has failed to turn them up. They are reprinted, however, in 67.11, 82.19 and 14.3. Rpt: “The Metaphysics of the Belly” is reprinted from 63.37; several selections from 66.11 appear, usually in a truncated form, in 98.7; others are reprinted in full in 13.1. See 65.2.


Apocalypse or debauch is upon us. And we are close to dead. There are faces and bodies like gorged maggots on the dance floor, on the highway, in the city, in the stadium; they are a host of chemical machines who swallow the product of chemical factories, aspirin, preservatives, stimulant, relaxant, and breathe out their chemical wastes into a polluted air. The sense of a long last night over civilization is back again; it has perhaps not been here so intensely in thirty years, not since the Nazis were prospering, but it is coming back. (66.11)


The Presidential Papers. New York: Putnam’s, 8 November. London: Deutsch, late April or early May 1964, with new preface (same as Bantam edition). Miscellany, 310 pp.

Norman Mailer (1963)

Republished with “Special Preface” by Mailer. New York: Bantam, May 1964 (64.15); republished with new preface by Mailer. New York: Berkley, October 1976 (76.13). Dedication: “This book is dedicated to some ladies who have aided and impeded the author in his composition. They are: Beverly Rentz Sugarfoot Bentley; Jean Louise Slugger Campbell; my daughters: Susan, Dandy, Betsy, Kate; my adopted daughter: Jeanne H.W. the Invaluable Johnson; my secretary: Anne Morse Towel-Boy Barry; my sister: Barbara Jane Alson; and Sadie, and Hetty Diggs, and Every-Mae.” Discarded titles: “The Devil Revisited”; “Frankie and Johnny, Or, The Murder of Good Ideas.” Mailer gives dates and details of composition for the volume’s contents in “Appendix B—Projects and Places.” Rpt: Several selections appear in 13.1, and truncated form in 98.7. See 1963 entries and 14.4.


Its anxiety is its anxiety, and its half-satisfied ambition is very much its throttled ambition, but for anyone who would like a clue to the mood of the country in the summer of 1963 just before that autumn of assassination which would change the psychic history of America forever, the book is a document. Besides—I whisper it—The Presidential Papers does have a couple of the better pieces I’ve written. (76.13)


Advertisements for Myself. New York: Putnam’s, 6 November; London: Deutsch, October 1961 (see 61.15 for note on British edition). Miscellany, 532 pp., $5.

Advertisements for Myself (1959)

Original working title: “The Hip and the Square: A Miscellany.” Republished with preface by Mailer. New York: Berkley, December 1976 (76.16). Preface reprinted (minus first paragraph) as “An Advertisement Advertised” in 82.16. Dedication: “I dedicate this book to the memory of Anne Mailer Kessler (1889-1958) and to David Kessler and to my father Isaac Barnett (“Barney”) Mailer.” Portions of this miscellany appeared in periodicals at approximately the same time the book was published, a tactic that Mailer used to herald most of his major books from 1959 on. Rpt: 59.12; all of the short stories appear in 67.11 and 82.19; several selections appear in 98.7 and 13.1. See 59.8a59.10, 59.14, 13.2, 242-58.


So Advertisements became the book in which I tried to separate my legitimate spiritual bile from my self-pity and maybe it was the hardest continuing task I had yet set myself. What aggravated every problem was that I was also trying to give up smoking, and the advertisements in this book, printed in italics, are testimony to the different way I was now obliged to use language. (76.14)