Reflections 2009

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« The Mailer ReviewVolume 3 Number 1 • 2009 • Beyond Fiction »
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In October 2006 I proposed the founding of The Mailer Review to members of The Norman Mailer Society at its annual meeting in Provincetown, Massachusetts. I had been thinking about a scholarly journal devoted to the life and work of Norman Mailer for a number of years, but the time was not right until this meeting. Norman Mailer supported the concept of a journal in his name and conditions were right to make the proposal. (Mailer had no editorial or financial relationship with the Review.)

I wasn’t sure if the membership would approve the journal or vote down my proposal, but I never doubted the critical importance of the project, knowing full well that a “yes” vote meant thousands of hours of work over the coming years. (I underestimated the time.) The proposal was unanimously approved.

Hence the Review was born. When I explained my vision of the journal to the Society members, I emphasized three issues:

  1. The raison d’être of the Review was (and is) the promotion of the legacy of Norman Mailer’s life and work;
  2. The Review is enhanced by a co-sponsorship with a major university (my deep gratitude to USF); and
  3. The Review must be an eclectic journal. This last point is of critical significance. There is always a risk with author’s journals becoming overwhelmed by either high-powered academic essays or cultural and/or biographical articles that are of interest primarily to Mailer enthusiasts and the general public. I felt that a successful journal must include scholarly and general interest entries.

It is for you, the reader, to decide if we have achieved our goal of eclecticism.

Our inaugural issue (2007) featured a wide array of contributions ranging from the creative (a fragment of Mailer’s unpublished play, The Naked and the Dead) to scholarly essays to articles that are personal. We also include, as a standard feature of each issue, book reviews and an annual bibliography of works related to Norman Mailer. I am pleased to say that the birth issue of the Review met with national and international success.

The second issue (2008) was a very challenging experience as it was the memorial issue commemorating Mailer’s most untimely death on November 10, 2007. Many, many poignant tributes flowed to the pages of the Review. Some of them were given at the Carnegie Hall Memorial Tribute to Norman Mailer on April 6, 2008. Approximately 2,400 people attended that event. Additional tributes were written exclusively for the Review. The memorial issue also contained a rich tapestry of scholarly and cultural entries, poems dedicated to Norman Mailer, and our standard sections of reviews and bibliography.

Our third issue is perhaps the most ambitious undertaking in our short history. It is a hefty volume, a “brick” as someone called it, describing well its girth at approximately seven hundred pages. Why so voluminous? A decision was made some time ago to publish a double issue once a year, rather than turn to a semi-annual or quarterly publication. The reasons are detailed but compelling, so it is the goal of the Review staff to bring you a substantive, double issue once a year for the foreseeable future.

I am most interested in bringing to you a series of thematic issues related to any and all aspects of Norman Mailer. The issue in your hands emphasizes creative nonfiction and Mailer’s work in film. I am pleased to note that our contributors come from a wide range of disciplinary perspectives and experiences, from film directors, producers, actors, journalists, creative artists, and memoirists, as well as scholars offering a range of interpretations of Mailer’s work.

The Mailer Review of 2010 will be an issue dedicated to the connections between Norman Mailer and Ernest Hemingway. I am happy to announce that more than two dozen contributors have already agreed to write for this volume and there are a number of ambitious and captivating essays already in progress. I am more enthusiastic than usual (if that is possible) as I look forward to 2010.

No editor’s column should fail to mention some of the names of those who make our journal what it is. My salute to Mike Lennon for his continuing contribution as a tireless font of seasoned counsel, which bears fruit that can be neither qualified nor quantified. Hunt Hawkins, USF English Chair, has steadfastly supported the Review in the throes of our troubled state of economy. The USF editorial staff has contributed incalculable time and energy in support of our mission: Constance Holmes, Managing Editor; Shannon Zinck, Senior Research Editor; and James Miller and Michael Shuman, Associate Editors. There would be no Review without their sustained, indefatigable efforts. My special thanks to the Mailer Family (especially Norris) and the Mailer Estate (particularly Larry Schiller), and the Harry Ransom Center.

A special debt of gratitude goes to Cary Sipiora, my wife of thirty years and a most enthusiastic supporter of The Mailer Review. My appreciation goes far beyond mere words.

Phillip Sipiora