David Susskind, November 26, 1963

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142 Columbia Heights
Brooklyn 1, New York
November 26, 1963

Dear David,

Thanks for your letter. I must confess that I thought the show was pretty bad while we were doing it, and for the first time in my life I really felt for you, since none of us were doing very much on our own.[1] To my surprise, the reactions I got were more favorable than almost any show I’ve been on. How odd is audience reaction. Actually, David, if you’d like to invite me back, there’s one show and one show only I’d really like to do right now. And that is a mano a mano with Bill Buckley, just you, me, and Old Bill. I think I could take him over two hours, and take him good, but win lose or draw it could be an exciting show. There is interest in the two of us as opponents. Our debate in Chicago for instance was a sell out in Medinah Temple, and grossed $8000.[2]

If you are interested in this, we’ll have to pick the time most carefully, because I’m deep in work this winter and doing a novel in serial in Esquire, and my deadlines fall each month between the 9th and the 15th. Which means that the only time I can afford to take off a few days and get ready would be in the week after I hand in a particular installment.

At any rate, best for now,
This page is part of
An American Dream Expanded.


  1. Mailer appeared on Open End, a television talk show hosted by David Susskind, in early November.
  2. He debated William F. Buckley, Jr. in Chicago on 22 September 1962 on “The Role of the Right Wing.” The debate transcript was published first in Playboy (February 1963) and later in The Presidential Papers. Mailer sometimes drafts his letters in pencil, sometimes dictates them, and sometimes uses a tape recorder. His secretary at the time, Anne Barry, took dictation and then typed the letters for his signature as she found time. The time lag between dictation and typing explains his lack of comment on President Kennedy’s assassination four days earlier, both in this letter and the two preceding.