Esther Whitby, December 15, 1964

142 Columbia Heights
Brooklyn 1, New York
December 15, 1964

Dear Mrs. Whitby,[1]

It was agreeable to get your letter, and I rush to answer, because I feel the change you made was not correct. Rojack has been married nine years. It is just that in one place (in the beginning of Chapter 2) he speaks of having spent a year learning something about Deborah, and then in effect having the leisure to consider it for the next eight years. I hope this is the only apparent inconsistency. I have a small uneasy feeling—I’m very bad about these matters—that I may have said in one place or another that they were married “all but nine years,” probably for no other reason than that I liked too much the sound of “all but.” If that sort of discrepancy does appear here and there, I think that we ought nonetheless to stay with nine, because its sound is sufficiently different from eight so that the cadence of a few sentences might be hurt a bit if we changed. Under the circumstances, we can defend nine as poetic license.

Yes, I guess we are related, by marriage at any rate. But you must be a Menell.[2] I remember meeting Bertha back in 1947, and another Menell, the son or nephew of Slip Menell, about two years ago in New York. Well, when I get to London we’ll have to talk about all this.

My best for now,
Norman Mailer
This page is part of
An American Dream Expanded.


  1. Esther Whitby was a Mailer fan.
  2. The Menells were related to the Mailers by marriage.