Mickey Knox, April 19, 1964

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NORMAN MAILER’s Letters
142 Columbia Heights
Brooklyn 1, New York
April 19, 1964

Dear Mickey,

Yes, you did win a bet, and in fact everyone in town has come around to remind me that I owe them money. I must have made twenty bets it would be a girl. Mike is 30 days old now and very alert. He moves like a boxer. I threw three left hooks to his cheek and on the fourth he brought up his right to block it. Karate I leave to you. He kicks like a Georgia mule. He’s got my head and will probably have my forehead, Bev’s[1] eyes and nose, his upper lip is like mine, and the lower lip and chin belong to the mother. It’s weird watching him make a face because some of his expressions are identical to Bev’s. She claims many of his expressions are like mine, but of course I’d be the last to see that.

I’ve got something funny to tell you about the birth. When I spoke to Adele[2] about it I told her that Beverly had four tough hours at the peak of labor, but a good strong delivery, and was feeling fine. When Adele saw Beverly she said, “Norman tells me you had a dreadful time.” If there’s anything worse than a woman, it’s an ex-wife.

Incidentally, Adele says she’s planning to visit you and Joan for a month or two this summer. If it isn’t that big a drag, try to convince Adele (that’s a joke, son) to stay on in Europe an extra month and go around traveling. Get her fired up on seeing something or other. The reason is that I would like to have Dandy and Betsy for two months this summer instead of one, and probably won’t be able to if Adele comes flying back like a scared rabbit. I know that’s no easy matter to accomplish, but see what you can do. If you can get Joan to think it’s her idea, and work on Adele, I think that you may be more successful than counting on Adele’s vast deep affection for you.

The serial goes on. I’m now in installment seven. The fifth, sixth, and seventh installments are fairly good, but I feel they’re not up to the first four, and I’ve lost the chance I had to write a really major novel. On the other hand, I don’t think I could have brought in a really good book in eight installments, and I know I wouldn’t have had the strength to go on for twelve. It’s been an incredible push because I’ve had to write figuratively with a locked wrist, since there was no time to explore and follow the kind of incidental bent which two times out of three leads you up a blind alley and then discovers a bigger book within the book. Anyway, I still think it’s going to be one of the best books written in a long time.

I saw the Clay-Liston fight, but won’t do a piece on it because there hasn’t been time. A pity. I think I could have done something good.

I hope Joan’s pregnancy is not making her too impatient. I think you’re going to love having a kid, and will be much more of a father than you expect. Be prepared, however, for a very bad month or two. I’ve never known a woman who doesn’t go into a deep depression after the birth of her child, particularly the first child. They feel as if the bottom has dropped out of everything, and unless you’re prepared for it as something which is as much physiological as psychological, you’re going to be miserable.

Norm

P.S. How much do I owe you?

This page is part of
An American Dream Expanded.

Notes

  1. Beverly Bentley Mailer is the fourth wife of Norman Mailer.
  2. Adele Morales Mailer is the mother of Mailer’s second and third children, Danielle “Dandy” and Elizabeth Anne “Betsy”.