Remembering Norris

The following entries are taken from a log I kept for the last three years of Mailer’s life when my wife Donna and I were living in Provincetown, Massachusetts, not far from the Mailers’ large brick house on the harbor. Entries were made every few days, along with occasional reflections. While the log focuses on Mailer and his table talk, Norris is on almost every page, and it was easy to select three dozen entries in which she is described and/or quoted. Note: Norris Church Mailer is identified as NCM; Norman Mailer as NM.

06–11–05

NCM is down to 110 and looks beautiful, although it is the medicine that is keeping her weight down. She says she cares more about clothes now that she is so slender. We had a good discussion with Dotson Rader about Tennessee Williams, who Dotson knew well. I told him that the Tennessee Williams Society may come to P-Town for its meeting.

06–13–05

Thinking about NM’s word to describe himself: improvisational. Yes, but with a big dollop of impetuous. Half the time at least, almost always in conversation, he says the first thing that comes to mind. This is especially true when he is talking to NCM. On hundreds of occasions he has blurted out some sarcasm to her — “That’s how southerners think,” for example. She gives as good as she gets, and they tend to do it in front of me all the time. I am flattered that they do not feel the need to be socially correct in front of me, but it is embarrassing. They really get into it. Both of them say, “Will you ever let me finish a sentence before interrupting?” He interrupts just as much as she does. He can also be extremely sweet and flattering; he is always telling NCM how beautiful she is, what a fine actress, how no one can play Lulu [from The Deer Park] better than she can, despite her age. This latter compliment worked beautifully in my presence a few weeks ago, and she agreed to play the role in one of their upcoming readings.

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Remembering Norris

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