Adeline Lubell Naiman, November 5, 1963

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NORMAN MAILER’s Letters
142 Columbia Heights
Brooklyn 1, New York
November 5, 1963


Dear Lub,[1]

Your letter came just as I finished dictating a long series of letters this morning. It was a pleasure to read, almost as if I’d been given a reward for working so hard at so dull a task through the morning. I’m in a curious situation now which makes me accumulate my mail for a month or more, then answer it in a day. I’ve always done this, but now it takes on the sterner forms of discipline, because I’m engaged in a break-neck venture. I got into trouble financially and was in debt, and decided the only way out of it which would give me some kind of modest luxury—like spending $20 on a dinner for two without thinking about it, or buying theatre tickets when I felt like it—was to write a novel in serial for Esquire, eight installments of ten thousand words each, and then sold the book before a word was written to Dial and Dell for $125,000 bucks. It seems that I am finally hot again as a property. For this next year I’m in the soup because this novel’s got to be fairly good or I’ll be ambushed by more crossfire than anybody I can think of in recent years, and indeed will deserve to get the worst, so I am off and writing. I’ve finished the first installment which is sheer cliff-hanger, and the second installment, which is sheer cliff-hanger. Can I keep it up?

Also my personal life has taken quite a turn. I’ve been living with a blonde actress named Beverly Bentley since last March, and she is now pregnant, which we desired, and we’ll be married if and when I get a divorce from Jean.[2] For Campbell is being cute and difficult about it all. I won’t tell you anything more about Beverly for I’d rather you meet her and decide for yourself. I have a feeling you may like her.

When I last heard from you, the baddies had Lucky[3] over a barrel. What has happened since? You make no mention of that in your letter. Give me the details if you have the chance. I’m curious.

Finally I have a new book. It’s called The Presidential Papers, and will be out in about ten days, and I’ll send you a copy this week—just so soon as I get some from the publisher. There’s only one important piece of writing in it, the last piece, which I think is pretty good.[4] As for the rest, if you’re bored and want some top-flight intellectual action, why don’t you look up Malaquais,[5] who’s now living in Wellesley. His address is 1 Horton House, Washington Street.

And forgive the flatness of this letter. It doesn’t mean I have no feeling for you, it just means I’m bored to death with writing letters. The trouble is I still enjoy receiving them.

Love,
Norman Mailer
This page is part of
An American Dream Expanded.

Notes

  1. A college friend of Mailer’s sister Barbara, Lubell (1927-) met Mailer in 1946. In 1947, as an editor at Little, Brown, Naiman argued unsuccessfully against Bernard DeVoto for the acceptance of The Naked and the Dead, published a year later by Rinehart.
  2. Mailer married his third wife, Lady Jean Campbell in April 1962; they were divorced in December 1963.
  3. Lucky is Adeline’s husband, Mark Naiman.
  4. “The Metaphysics of the Belly” is a long, philosophical self-interview about art, digestion, disease, Hemingway, Picasso, technology and the soul. Mailer liked it enough to reprint it in Cannibals and Christians, along with a new, companion self-interview, “The Political Economy of Time.”
  5. Jean Malaquais was one of Mailer’s closest friends and his intellectual mentor. They met in Paris in 1947.