79.35a

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Norman Mailer: Works and Days
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BBC Interview by Roy Plomley on his show, Desert Island Discs, 15 December 1979. Recorded during the publicity tour for The Executioner’s Song (79.14), this 40-minute interview spans his career and is framed by Mailer’s desert-island musical selections. Major points—from his early days at Harvard where he discovered the “joy of writing”; his disappointment at having missed serving in Europe during World War II, to his foray into filmmaking; his writing habits and personal life—are all discussed. Mailer acknowledges his appreciation for jazz which begins in his early career and grows in the sixties and through several marriages. Mailer states: “If there is any moment in my life that music became terribly important to me it was with American jazz, the jazz of the ’50s. I use to hang out at a place called The Five Spot. It was absolutely famous in small circles in those days. . . . We used to hear Thelonious Monk there and once in a while, Miles Davis. Once in a great while Sonny Rollins. I chose records of Sonny Stitt and Sonny Rollins, and Miles Davis because it brings back that period to me. It’s a very rich period, a period where everything started in America.” When asked about his desert-island book, Mailer replies: “Labyrinths by Borges. . . . It’s immensely complex and tremendously compressed. There’s enough in that one work, an expression of his best pieces over the years . . . to keep my mind interested for many a year.” See 81.16, 89.5a, and 07.44.