Francis Irby Gwaltney, May 15, 1964

From Project Mailer
142 Columbia Heights
Brooklyn 1, New York
May 15, 1964

Dear Fig,[1]

I can’t make this as long a letter as I’d like to, because I’ve just been working on Installment eight[2]—I’ve managed to clear five weeks for it, and it may turn out to be the longest of them all, because I have to go on until the book is done. It’s not that hard to write a hundred thousand words in eight months—I know you’ve done it often. But the trick here is to make them one hundred thousand finished words, and that makes for strain, because it’s hard to relax and get swinging away. So you don’t get many bonuses. It’s a little like an actor having to memorize Shakespeare. He can’t really relax in the part because of the demands of the language. So here you can’t relax into the serial because of the pressure of time. Anyway, let’s see how it all turns out.

Now for some news which may be interesting to you. I’ve really missed you and Ecey, Merry Lee and Frank, and I’d like very much to see you this summer. But why don’t you consider this: we’re going to Provincetown for four months, June 1 to September 30, and with any luck I hope to get a house with four bedrooms. If I do, will you and Ecey consider coming east for two weeks this summer? Dandy,[3] Betsy,[4] and Susie[5] are going to be with me for June and part of July, so things will be a little cramped during that period. But from August 1 I’m sure we’ll have plenty of room, and if you wanted to, you and Ecey can bring the kids. Provincetown is a fishing village three miles long and two streets wide, population three thousand in the winter, fifteen thousand in the summer, but I’d match it in beauty against any European fishing village I’ve seen, and it’s a marvelous part of the East. Around then it will be getting pretty hot in Louisiana or29 Arkansas, and the nights are cool in Provincetown. So don’t argue with me. Find time and find a way to come up and be our guest for a couple of weeks. You’ll have the best time you’ve had in years, or I’ll consider the trip a failure. And Fran and Mary Lee will go out of their minds swimming in salt water. (If my plans work out right, we’ll have a house on the beach.)

Mike[6] is now a couple of months old, and his head has slimmed down from a banana to a lemon. Much to his mother’s lack of delight I insist on calling him Lemon- Head Boiks, since that is indeed his middle name: Michael Burks Mailer, Bev’s father’s name being Burks Kendrick Rentz. Anyway, Mike looks ¾ like Beverly, ¼ like me. He’s got my head, my upper lip, and a nose which gives promise of being just as fat. He looks like a squirrel and he’s got a prick on him which makes little girls’ eyes open with wonder, carries it in a state of constant erection, as far as I can see. Can you imagine that—a squirrel who’s hung?

Give my love to Ecey and let me hear from both of you about this new red-hot idea of mine. A kiss to Mary Lee. You may be the agent who transmits this.

This page is part of
An American Dream Expanded.


  1. Mailer served in the Army with “Fig”, a teacher, novelist and native of Arkansas.
  2. The eighth installment of An American Dream
  3. Danielle “Dandy” is Mailer’s second child
  4. Elizabeth Anne “Betsy" is Mailer’s third child.
  5. Susan Mailer Colodro, the daughter of Mailer and his first wife Beatrice Silverman.
  6. Michael is Mailer’s fourth child.