J. Michael Lennon

Archivist, Biographer, Educator

Mailer on Henry Miller

In August of 1977, when visiting Mailer in Provincetown, I asked him to sign a copy of his new book, Genius and Lust: A Journey Through the Writings of Henry Miller (Grove Press, October, 1976). He did, and because I usually use unsigned or paperback editions of Mailer’s work for reference, this signed edition has been untouched all these years. I recently found Mailer’s hand-written note, described below, laid in this copy. It was written in green pencil on the blank side of one page of a xerox copy of an essay by Mark Kram in Sports Illustrated (September 2, 1974), “The Fight’s Lone Arranger.” The piece is a profile of Don King, the promoter who was principally responsible for convincing George Foreman and Muhammad Ali to hold their October 1974  heavyweight championship bout in Zaire. Mailer underlined two passages in the essay, both of which describe King’s violent criminal background, for use in his planned account of the match, The Fight (Little, Brown, July 1975).  Paraphrases of the passages show up there (pp. 115-17). 

Lennon & Mooney on Working Together

A Conversation with Unexpected Turns

Two longstanding faculty members come together for publication. J. Michael Lennon, co-founder of our creative writing program, archivist, biographer and master of non-fiction, paired with Robert Mooney, wordsmith connoisseur, fiction genius and creator of time-shifting worlds? It feels improbable.

But in the fall of 2022, we shall all bear witness to this brilliant duo’s efforts as Etruscan Press releases Lennon’s book, edited by Mooney. And from the Zoom conversations we’ve had, it sounds like our two mentors will not disappoint. 

A Mistake 10,000 Miles Long

Robert Stone’s best work was inspired by the Vietnam War.

In interviews two decades apart (1985 and 2006) Robert Stone recalled what happened after finishing a difficult section at the end of his second novel, Dog Soldiers (1974), while working in the basement of a university library. He staggered out of his carrel, crying and talking to himself, and “ran right into the security guard. He almost went for his gun because it’s the middle of the night, and I looked completely demented. You can get very, very affected”. Stone (1937–2015) equated his passionate immersion in the lives of his characters with that of Charles Dickens.

Mike and Susan Mailer at the 92Y

Susan Mailer and Norman Mailer’s authorized biographer, J. Michael Lennon, will explore her story, but also that of the five years she spent writing her memoir. They will discuss how her psychoanalytic training aided her comprehension of her father’s complex personality, and how delving into her past turned out to be a second analysis for her. They will examine the similarities and differences between the act of writing and practicing analysis. And also, how becoming a writer has helped her maintain a continuing dialogue with her father, after his death in 2007.

The virtual event is on Sunday, November 15 at 7pm EST.

Mike Interviews Vicki Mayk

In Growing Up on the Gridiron, Vicki Mayk tells the story of Owen Thomas, his family, teammates, friends, and coaches and explores the health concern he helped to illuminate. It’s also the story of Dr. Ann McKee, the Boston University-based neuropathologist who bucked conventional wisdom and the football establishment, as she studied Owen’s brain and its larger significance.

Crafted Confession

Re-reading Memories of a Catholic Girlhood by Mary McCarthy

Mary McCarthy planned to write a three-volume autobiography late in her life, but only finished the first, How I Grew (1987), before she died at the age of seventy-seven in 1989. It was politely received, as due the “First Lady of American Letters … our Joan of Arc”, as Norman Mailer referred to her, but the praise was generally tepid, largely because it was a twice-told tale. McCarthy had covered roughly the same years of her life in an earlier book, Memories of a Catholic Girlhood. Published in 1957, it is considered by some to be the best of her two dozen books, including eight novels and several volumes of essays, reportage and criticism. Its superiority derives not only from the passionate sense of justice that imbues the depiction of her ghastly Cinderella childhood, but also the singular circumstances of its composition.

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.

Page 1 of 34

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén