Lipton’s Journal/January 26, 1955/289

From Project Mailer

Let me try 283 again. I am the rationalist who is drawn to the mystery. I have no patience with exposition. Once I know something to my own satisfaction, I just do not have the enthusiasm to expound it, to go through the motions. That is why I have never been able to write a novel which I planned in advance. I can only write novels which I discover as I go. That is also why I was attracted to science and mathematics in my adolescence and started off to be an engineer. I was essentially a physicist at that time, for physicists (real physicists as opposed to academic physicists) are rational men who are attracted to a mystery. Engineers are their opposite. Engineers have confused minds which seek for certainty. The engineer is only happy when he can find the number, know the problem, state the answer. The physicist is only happy when he can quit the number, the answer, for the question.

So my novels had to go forward and my audiences (at least my sympathetic audiences) diminish for I just could not go through the motions of describing how I had gotten to the point from which I start my characters. All my writing of that sort today is uninspired. I am interested essentially, creatively, in going on, and so my best characters in The Deer Park (for me) were the ones who were always mysteries to me before—to wit, Lulu,[1] Munshin,[2] and above all, Teppis.[3] They are what lift the novel above the merely intelligent, sophisticated and cynical. They are glorious monsters. And Marion Faye[4] is the character who leads me out of the book and has pointed the way to the next one, whatever it will be.


  1. Lulu Meyers, a Hollywood actress in The Deer Park who was once married to Charles Eitel, aspires to be the most popular actress in America and has an affair with Sergius O’Shaugnessey through most of the novel.
  2. In The Deer Park, Carlyle “Collie” Munshin is the son-in-law of Herman Teppis and is best known for pirating the scripts of others. One of Mailer’s finest comic characters.
  3. Herman Teppis, the head of Supreme Studios in The Deer Park, is an unscrupulous movie producer who manipulates actors for his own benefit.
  4. Mailer’s anti-hero for a post-Hiroshima world in The Deer Park, Faye (son of Dorothea O’Faye, a former singer who presides over a drunken salon in Desert D’Or, Mailer’s name for Palm Springs, California), is the archetypal hipster. A bisexual pimp and drug dealer, he is the novel’s dark conscience, the polar opposite of Charles Eitel. Mailer planned to use Faye as a centripetal character in the seven novels that he planned and failed to write as sequels to The Deer Park.