Reflections 2013

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« The Mailer ReviewVolume 7 Number 1 • 2013 • A Double LifeMind of an Outlaw »

The year 2013 is a critically important time in Mailer Studies.

J. Michael Lennon’s authorized biography, Norman Mailer: A Double Life (Simon & Schuster), was recently published and it delivers everything that many of us had anticipated: rich historical detail and contexts interwoven with a consistent, cogent treatment of the meaning (and) significance of assembled facts, contexts, and personalities. Lennon’s biography is not only the definitive Mailer biography (there have been four other biographies plus a number of memoirs), but it is also a complex, interpretive narrative that examines the very textured primary narrative that was Mailer’s life. The biography is nearly a thousand pages and I wish that it were longer—there is so much to digest and attempt to understand what it was that made Mailer into an artist who played so many roles, impressively chronicled in the biography, than can be described.

A Mailer Renaissance is illustrated by other works published this year. Mind of an Outlaw (Random House) is a collection of Mailer’s essays over six decades that I was honored to have edited. This anthology attempts to introduce Mailer to a new generation of readers interested in the powerful (and often controversial) ideas of one of America’s great public intellectuals. (A precious heretofore unpublished Mailer essay on Freud is included in the volume.) Donald Kaufmann’s book, Norman Mailer: Legacy and Literary Americana (Scholar’s Publishing) examines Mailer’s connections with writers from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and raises a number of probing issues about Mailer’s literary legacy. In 2012 TASCHEN paired Mailer’s original text (his 1973 biography Marilyn), words edited by J. Michael Lennon, with Bert Stern’s extraordinary photographs, a book conceived by Larry Schiller. In the same year the Criterion Collection released Maidstone and Other Films, so Mailer’s four films are now available in high quality format. Times are good for Mailer Studies.

The articles selected for this issue, as always, were chosen to represent a diverse range of perspectives on Mailer’s life and work. The issue opens with a short story written by Mailer when he was a senior at Harvard. It is a rite of passage narrative, not unlike similar short stories by Hemingway and Fitzgerald when they were young, developing writers. J. Michael Lennon’s interview provides valuable insights into the mind and methodology of a biographer as well as his subject matter. Jerome Loving examines the critical connections between Mailer and Dreiser and their respective importance to American belles lettres. Bob Batchelor explores strategic cultural connections among Fitzgerald, Mailer, and Bob Dylan. Erik Nakjavani reports and interprets reactions to the suicide of Ernest Hemingway. Victor Peppard and Hujun Ren, respectively, examine the emerging importance of Mailer in Russia and China. Dick Russell chronicles Mailer’s involvement in the Dynamite Club, a Washington-based group of political insiders. Mark Noonan investigates the Brooklyn roots of Norman Mailer and Arthur Miller. Carolyn Yalcut takes a second look at Mailer’s involvement in New Journalism. Ronald Fried explores Mailer’s boxing journalism. And there is much more as other writers probe Mailer’s connections and influence in various arenas. Further, we are proud to offer a range of creative works as well as several book reviews related to the life, work, and times of Norman Mailer.

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I would like to thank M. Allison Wise for her exemplary work managing, researching, and preparing the past two issues as the Managing Editor of The Mailer Review. Allison will continue her association with the Review in serving as Associate Editor over the coming year. Her experience, professionalism, and dedicated work ethic have been a distinct plus. I would like to welcome Brianna Jerman as our new Managing Editor with the preparation of the 2014 issue. Her very strong research, editing, management, and literary skills well serve the mission of the Review. I am pleased to acknowledge that Sabrina Grasso will join our staff as an intern for the 2013/2014 academic year. As always, I am most appreciative of the dedicated work of Mike Shuman (Deputy Editor), Shannon Zinck (Bibliographer and Associate Editor), and Gerald Lucas (Senior Media and Digital Editor), who manages the NMS website and contributes to the Review in ways far too numerous to enumerate. The Review could not survive without our dedicated staff.

A profound nod of appreciation goes to our benefactors, without whose generous support The Mailer Review could not exist. And thank you, dear readers, for your enthusiastic, steadfast support over the past seven years. We look forward to continuing our role in nurturing the legacy of Norman Mailer, who continues to matter in so many ways.

Phillip Sipiora