Mickey Knox, December 18, 1964

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NORMAN MAILER’s Letters
142 Columbia Heights
Brooklyn 1, New York
December 18, 1964

Dear Mickey,

Once again I’m banging my way through seventy or eighty letters, so there’s no pleasure in writing to anybody. I think Heidegger,[1] in speaking of matters like being and authenticity, also discusses the nothingness of a great many daily events—the matter of pursuing activities which are tasteless, joyless, probably not even necessary, and pervasive. And letter-writing, of course, [is] all a large part of that nothingness for me. This is by way of apology for the flatness of my letters. By the time I finish a letter to you, I always feel as if I’d let you down in some indefinable way.

Now as for the famous Robert Frank[2] letter, the one you may or may not have received, I’m so confused by now that I’m going to send you my carbon of it, and you’ll then be able to decide for yourself whether or not the original ever caught up with you.

I’m glad you liked the Republican Convention piece.[3] It’s amusing, but reactions to it here have been more positive than anything I’ve done since The Naked and the Dead. I think the piece is good, but I wonder if it’s really so good as everyone says, or is buoyed up somewhat by the intense hatred most people feel for Goldwater. This is all very fine, the approval, I mean, because it puts me a tiny bit back in fashion, which I can use for An American Dream. The advance word out on the novel, you see, is that I’ve written a stinker. Which of course burns my ass. If it’s a stinker, I’m off my moorings. I don’t want to say too much now, but I’ve reworked that book as carefully as if I were giving a lovely lady my loveliest, and I think … well, read it for yourself. I’ll get a copy to you as soon as I can. In fact I think I’ll send you two copies so you can hand one around.

Give my regards to Welles, and tell him I said it’s a great pity he’s not in the theater any more, because I always wanted him to do Charles Francis Eitel[4]. Also, if you’ve got a copy of The Presidential Papers, and it’s feasible, tell Welles that I’d like him to read “The Metaphysics of the Belly,” where he will doubtless agree with me that he is no longer alone—there are now two great minds in the world. I’m kidding, Mickey, don’t put yourself out on this last one.

Listen, I don’t get it. Why don’t you get a babysitter? As I remember, labor in Spain, housemaids, babysitters, etc., is unbelievably inexpensive. Certainly it will cost you a lot less than taking care of Maria Morales’[5] passage and incidental expenses. Besides, I don’t think you know what you’re getting in for. It’s one thing to dominate her when you’re around, and it’s another thing to dominate her when you’re on the set and she’s sitting around chatting at home with Joanie. So think twice, amigo.

Listen, these are my plans. I’m going over to England for the publication of An American Dream, and will be there a week or two. Maybe I’ll take on a trip to Italy or Spain for another week or two. That depends on a hundred different things—whether I go alone, with Beverly, with Beverly and Michael, all sorts of things that are too hard to answer at the moment. But anyway, I’m just about positive I won’t be over before that. So probably I’ll be seeing you in Rome rather than in Spain. Or maybe we can meet at a ski resort. There are enough possibilities, aren’t there.

Hey, one bit of news. Irving Shulman has the same agent I do, and wanted to meet me.[6] We couldn’t get together, but did talk on the phone, and of course he asked all about you, and listened with interest, and I get the impression he’d like to hear from you. So if you’re in the mood, drop him a letter in care of Scott Meredith, 580 Fifth Avenue, New York.

Give Valentina a kiss for me, and tell her to watch out for Michael, because he’s a real prick—every time I throw a punch at him, he just busts out laughing.

Love,
Norman
This page is part of
An American Dream Expanded.

Notes

  1. Mailer continues to be interested in the existentialism of the German philosopher Martin Heidegger.
  2. Robert Frank is a well-known photographer, filmmaker and member of the 1960s counterculture.
  3. “In the Red Light: A History of the Republican Convention in 1964” was published in the November 1964 issue of Esquire.
  4. Charles Frances Eitel is the movie producer in Mailer’s third novel, The Deer Park.
  5. Maria Consuelo Morales was the mother of Adele and Joan Morales.
  6. Irving Shulman was a novelist whose agent was also Scott Meredith.