Norman Mailer’s Birthday

norm-2Taken From Writers Almanac:

Born in Long Branch, New Jersey (1923). He was studying engineering at Harvard when he was drafted into the Army in 1944. He served in the Philippines and Japan. After his discharge, he moved to New York City and spent 15 months writing a novel about the war. It was The Naked and the Dead (1948), and it became the definitive literary novel about World War II, and made Norman Mailer famous at the age of 25. He went on to win two Pulitzer Prizes: for The Armies of the Night (1968) and for his nonfiction novel The Executioner’s Song (1979).

 He wrote by hand – he usually wrote in the morning and then typed it up in the afternoon, or gave it to an assistant to type. He said: “I used to have a little studio in Brooklyn, a couple of blocks from my house – no telephone, not much else. The only thing I ever did there was work. It was perfect. I was like a draft horse with a conditioned reflex. I came in ready to sit at my desk. No television, no way to call out. Didn’t want to be tempted. There’s an old Talmudic belief that you build a fence around an impulse. If that’s not good enough, you build a fence around the fence. So, no amenities. (But for a refrigerator!) I wrote longhand with a pencil and I gave it to my assistant, Judith McNally. She would type it for me and the next day I would go over it. Since at my age you begin to forget all too much, I would hardly remember what I had written the day before. It read, therefore, as if someone else had done it. The critic in me was delighted. I could now proceed to fix the prose. The sole virtue of losing your short-term memory is that it does free you to be your own editor.”


About Bruce Louis Dodson

Bruce Louis Dodson is an American expat now living in Borlänge, Sweden with his wife, cat and dog. He is an artist and world traveler who writes fiction and poetry and practices photography in his less than copious free time. His work has appeared in: Barely South Review - Boundaries Issue, Blue Collar Review, Pulsar Poetry (UK), Foliate Oak, Breadline Press West Coast Anthology . The E-buffet, Qarrtsiluni, Struggle Magazine, Pearl Literary Magazine, Contemporary Literature Review: India, 3rd Wednesday, Sleeping Cat Books - Trip of a Lifetime Anthology, Northern Liberties Review, Authors Abroad - Foreign & and Far Away Anthology, The Path, Page & Spine, The Crucible, Sleeping Cat Books -Trips of a Lifetime, Vine Leaves, Pirene's Fountain,Tic Toc Anthology - Kind of a Hurricane Press, Cordite Poetry Review, Buffalo Almanac and mgv2.
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4 Responses to Norman Mailer’s Birthday

  1. Now that’s a positive view of short-term memory loss. Interesting info that I did not know about Mailer. Thanks.

  2. ShimonZ says:

    I saw him as an important literary figure though he was never popular in our country. His ‘Advertisements for Myself’ was just as important as the volumes that you mentioned. How strange that he is no longer with us, and how sweet that you’ve enriched the day with his memory…

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