An American Dream Expanded/Credits

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For Donna, Stephen, Joseph and James.

With a Special Appreciation to the students of English 397, Norman Mailer Seminar, at Wilkes University: Helene Caprari, Monica Cardenas, Justin D'Angelo, Patricia Dibble, Katherine Green, Mark James, Marcia McGann, Sabrina McLaughlin, Jessica Skutack and Gregory Specter.

Acknowledgements and Appreciations

My first debt is to Norman Mailer, who gave full access to his Archive and generously supported the preparation of this edition. He has also read his letters collected here, provided countless details for the head notes and introduction, and corrected many errors of fact and interpretation. I am deeply grateful for his help and friendship. The ten students of my English 397 Norman Mailer seminar at Wilkes University made major contributions. During the spring 2003 semester they helped select the letters and gave extra time on weekends for this work. In addition, members of the seminar key stroked the manuscript, proofread the result and did supplementary research on the historical period, the novel’s background and reception and Mailer’s correspondents. Seminar members also compared the two versions of the novel in various ways, which was of great help in evaluating the changes Mailer made when he revised it for book publication. They also helped me (especially Marcia McGann) organize and re-file the letters from the mid-sixties in a systematic way. The seminar also provided great encouragement and engaged me in regular dialogue about the problems, large and small, encountered in preparing this edition. I am happy to express my gratitude to Helene Caprari, Monica Cardenas, Justin D’Angelo, Patricia Dibble, Katherine Green, Mark James, Marcia McGann, Sabrina McLaughlin, Jessica Skutack and Gregory Specter. Jacqueline Mosher, Humanities Division secretary at Wilkes, also deserves applause for her above-and-beyond support.

About twenty years ago Hershel Parker compared the two versions of the novel and published his conclusions in Flawed Texts and Verbal Icons (Northwestern University Press 1983). His essay, and a copy of his working papers donated to the Archive, was quite useful and stimulated important discussions in class. While I do not agree with Parker that the Esquire version is the better, there would seem to be some substance to his general argument that subsequent authorial or editorial changes to the first published version of a text may significantly damage its creative integrity. Mailer was also impressed with Parker’s painstaking comparison, but told the New York Times, “I think the Dial version is the better. The publisher preferred to print the Esquire serial, but I devoted four months to revising it for the book.”[2]

Several colleagues and friends read drafts ofthe text, making invaluable contributions. First among these is Robert F. Lucid, Mailer’s authorized biographer, whose familiarity with the materials surrounding the novel and rich knowledge of Mailer’s life helped me at every turn. His assertion of the importance of Mailer’s summer 1963 cross-country drive to Las Vegas was of particular value. Barbara Wasserman provided regular encouragement and a great deal of background information on the Mailer family and the events of the early 1960s; she also proofread the manuscript with an eagle eye. Darin Fields, my Dean at Wilkes University, gave me strong encouragement and advice at the outset and, as then-chair of the Humanities Division, approved the Mailer seminar where much of the work was accomplished. Thomas Fiske, Mailer collector and enthusiast, also read the manuscript, noting errors and providing encouragement, as did Jack Scovil, former colleague of Scott Meredith. Monica Cardenas and Sabrina McLaughlin made many useful suggestions when they proofread the manuscript (and regularly discussed the shape of this edition with me); Mark James did a thorough analysis of the Esquire and Dial versions, including a final word count of each chapter. Mailer scholar Barry H. Leeds has generously read the final manuscript and made several thoughtful suggestions. Stephen Borkowski, Provincetown neighbor, has been of great assistance on this project, generating advance subscription sales, reading the manuscript, listening, cheering and advising from start to finish. He also introduced me to Peter Madden who graciously assisted in locating a binder for the edition. Peter Lennon has supported my work on Mailer for decades, providing good advice and many obscure documents. Joseph Lennon did a careful review of the introduction and was an inspiration to me as I compiled the index. Christopher Busa, Publisher of Provincetown Arts, has also been a stalwart advisor and source of encouragement. His magazine will publish nine letters from this edition in the magazine’s annual issue, published in July 2004. Finally, Professor Harold E. Cox of Wilkes University has freely given his time and counsel on complex production problems. To all those, named and unnamed, who have assisted, my thanks. The errors that remain are solely my responsibility.

The Eugene S. Farley Library at Wilkes University provided support for this project during the spring semester of 2003 when the Mailer seminar met in the Norman Mailer Room on the Library’s first floor. Thanks to Brian Sacolic and Heidi Selecky for arranging for this support. I would also like to thank the Faculty Development Committee of Wilkes University for providing a summer 2002 research grant, which enabled me to undertake preliminary work on the project in Provincetown, Massachusetts, Mr. Mailer’s permanent home since the mid-1980s. The Faculty Development Committee and Wilkes University also supported my participation in the April 2003 American Literature Association Conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts where I delivered a paper on the letters published here. I would also like to acknowledge the encouragement of Jay Parini, the editor of the recently published Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature. I have borrowed a few paragraphs from my literary biography of Mailer in volume three of this massive reference work and reworked them for this introduction.

Finally I would like to thank my wife, Donna Pedro Lennon, for her unstinting help and encouragement on matters technological, editorial, and psychological. Her support has been crucial. No one has done more to make this volume a reality.

This page is part of
An American Dream Expanded.


  1. Dedication and Acknowledgements by J. Michael Lennon from the original book publication, 2004.
  2. Mailer, quoted in Herbert Mitgang’s article, “On the Scholarly Trail of the New Revisionists,” New York Times, 10 February 1983, C-22.