Richard Kluger, March 22, 1965

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NORMAN MAILER’s Letters
142 Columbia Heights
Brooklyn 1, New York
March 22, 1965

Dear Dick,[1]

Thank you for your letter, which was a good one. There are no hard feelings. All you can ever ask of a book review editor is that he offers you a fair to good draw on the reviewer. And in advance I would have said Tom Wolfe was a fair choice.[2] The New York Review is the one I’m irritated at. Because [Robert B.] Silvers must have known (everyone else in New York did) that my work has been anathema to Philip Rahv for years.[3]

Here’s the list. I’m not very happy with it, and I’m not sure you’re doing the right thing. It’s the sort of poll that tends to reinforce a literary establishment. My opinions go into the hopper with Granville Hicks’—what does that accomplish?[4] Since there are more Hicks, he thrives on this sort of poll and ultimately I perish. Perhaps not personally, i.e., my “stock” can remain high, but my power to influence opinion has to be diminished by setting up a College of Electors of this sort.

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

Notes

  1. Kluger was an editor at the literary supplement, Book Week. Mailer was responding, in part, to his request for a list of the books that most influenced him.
  2. Tom Wolfe, novelist and new journalist, wrote a negative review of An American Dream that appeared in Book Week on 14 March 1965.
  3. Philip Rahv, the literary critic, wrote his negative review for the 25 March 1965 number of the New York Review of Books, edited by Robert B. Silvers.
  4. Granville Hicks was the literary editor of The Saturday Review, where on 20 March 1965 he gave the novel a negative review, suggesting that it was a literary hoax. Mailer called him “predictable Hicks” in a review of Norman Podhoretz’s memoir, Making It, in Partisan Review, spring 1968.