Lonnie L. Wells, April 16, 1966

From Project Mailer
142 Columbia Heights
Brooklyn 1, New York
April 16, 1966

Dear Lonnie Wells,[1]

I’m afraid I can’t answer your question definitively. I don’t know of any other work of fiction where John Kennedy[2] appears as a character on or off the immediate scene of the novel. But of course, that is not at all the same thing as knowing that An American Dream is certainly the first book of that sort.[3]

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


  1. Wells was a Mailer fan.
  2. It appears that Mailer was the first to use J.F.K. in a novel. He used Kennedy again as a character in his 1991 CIA novel, Harlot's Ghost.
  3. The use of historical characters in novels did not originate with Mailer, of course, but the practice became more common after An American Dream. For example, E. L. Doctorow, who worked on Mailer’s novel as a young editor at Dial, depicted Harry Houdini, Henry Ford, J. P. Morgan and several other historical figures in his 1975 nonfiction novel, Ragtime.