J. Michael Lennon

Archivist, Biographer, Educator

44 Bark Street

I was ensconced in utero on the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, and not long after my birth in June 1942, my father went off to war. John Michael Lennon is my full name, but from birth I was called Michael to avoid confusion with my father, John Charles. I am the eldest of four children (my brother Peter, is approximately five years younger, and my twin sisters, Kathleen and Maureen, six), and the oldest of 34 first cousins. For my first five years, I lived with my mother, the former Mary Mitchell and her parents at 44 Bark Street in Fall River, Massachusetts, until my father’s return in April 1946 (the same month Mailer returned from Japan).

The Dark Closet

My grandparent’s four-bedroom house at 44 Bark Street, in Fall River, Massachusetts, was slightly larger than the others in the neighborhood, but small by today’s standards. The porch, or piazza, as it was called, wrapped around two sides and made the house seem larger. The piazza was my coign of vantage to observe all movement on the street and in the yard. From the front, I waved to cousin Preston, who pushed his wagon up the hill while crying out, “Any raaags, any bones, any bottles.” I also met the mailman, who handed me letters from his leather bag with a smile. But when my grandmother’s friend, an old crone known as Peggy-with-the-Long-Tooth, came walking down the hill, I hid. She squeezed me hard and kissed me whenever she could, and I could feel her tooth against my cheek.

The Dark Closet

J. Michael Lennon reads about his Grandmother’s dark closet, and her crow, Martha.” Wilkes University Creative Writing Residency, January 5, 2020.

My Father, Norman Mailer: Mike and Susan Mailer at the 92Y

On Wednesday, May 20, 2020, Susan will speak with J. Michael Lennon at the 92Y. For more information and tickets, see the event page at the 92Y.

Gallery: Book Release Party

From the book release party of Susan Mailer‘s In Another Place. Photos by Elizabeth Rainer (erainer [at] gmail [dot] com).

Mike Interviews Susan Mailer

J. Michael Lennon: As a practicing psychoanalyst, you have published professional papers, but this is your first creative work. Why did you decide to write a memoir?

Susan Mailer: In 2013 I was invited to be the keynote speaker at the Norman Mailer Society Conference. I decided to write a personal vignette that would shed light on an unknown aspect of my father’s life. Immediately, I remembered those months Dad had spent in Mexico when I was a small child and had taken me to the bullfights. I hadn’t thought about the corridas in more than 40 years, but the images were all there, waiting to be retrieved: the music, the atmosphere, the smell of beer and Mexican snacks, people cheering, and most of all the black bull running, panting, fighting for his life, and finally dying.

Before the Norman Mailer Conference, I had participated in psychoanalytic conferences and written papers that were published in journals. Thinking about my life and setting it down on paper was a new experience. I dug into my memories, waited for my unconscious to work through the gray areas, and a piece of my life with Dad appeared. The writing flowed, and I enjoyed it. I thought I want to do more of this. And I also thought, many books have been written about Dad, but few people know what he was like as a father. I decided to plunge into unknown territory and began writing the memoir.

Read the entire interview in Hippocampus Magazine.

Mike Reviews Didion’s LOA Volume

“A new collection of Joan Didion’s work reminds us that she is her most memorable character.” Read more in The Washington Post or right here.

Mailer Tuchman Media Debuts Film And TV Slate Anchored By Norman Mailer Drama

Mailer Tuchman Media has launched with an initial slate of film and TV projects anchored by Mailer, a drama series about the late author/provocateur.

Mike Reads from Memoir, June 2019

Norman Mailer, the Moon Landing, New Journalism, and More

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