J. Michael Lennon

Archivist, Biographer, Educator

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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.

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 on TLS.

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 Reviews “The Muse in Universe City” by Philip Brady

A blurb on the back cover of professor-publisher-poet Philip Brady’s new book, Phantom Signs: The Muse in Universe City (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2019) describes it as a “high-spirited flash memoir.” This phrase could lead innocent readers to anticipate juicy tales of the author’s life as an American variety of Kingsley Amis’s Lucky Jim, a farouche academic who will take us on a frisky ride through the postmodern cultural landscape where we’ll encounter eccentric editors and nasty provosts (Brady’s particular bogeymen), attend poetry readings, ponder manuscripts and blurbs, get tutored in small press publication, pedagogical conundrums, and literary politics, all of this reamed with apercus about the miseries of social media and technology, remembrances of youthful erotic escapades, and punctuated by mildly astringent appraisals of poets past and present—Homer, Yeats, and H. L. Hix are the book’s tutelary spirits—as well as comical portraits of fellow litterateurs and beloved family members, the whole shebang battened together by droll wit and admirable forbearance. Brady’s dazzling new memoir (he wrote an earlier, more conventional one, To Prove My Blood, 2004), is all of these things, but it is the dream-like manner that he employs for the majority of the volume’s essays that transforms the volume into something rich and strange.

Read more on Hippocampus »

At the Inkwell NYC Biography Night

At The Inkwell NYC (in our NEW LOCATION at WORD Brooklyn) is delighted to feature three highly-acclaimed biographers John J. Winters, Michael Lennon, and Barbara Burkhardt.

Confessions of a Left-Conservative: Norman Mailer in the Library of America

NORMAN MAILER WOULD HAVE been ill suited for the contemporary cultural landscape. Married six times, he discarded five wives and stabbed one (an incident that led to a 17-day confinement in the psych ward at Bellevue, a conviction for third-degree assault, and five years’ probation). Overconfident, often boorish, fueled by booze and driven by a towering ego, he made a drunken ass of himself on The Dick Cavett Show in 1971 and got the stuffing knocked out of him in a debate with a panel of prominent feminists — a raucous, ragged, must-see affair captured on film in the D. A. Pennebaker/Chris Hegedus documentary Town Bloody Hall.

Read More on the LA Review of Books »

Norman Mailer and the Siege of Chicago

At the American Writers Museum to discuss Mailer and his work will be J. Michael Lennon and Maureen Corrigan. Lennon is emeritus professor of English at Wilkes University, is Norman Mailer’s archivist, editor, and authorized biographer, and president of the Norman Mailer Society. His books include Norman Mailer: “A Double Life” (2013) and “Selected Letters of Norman Mailer” (2014).

Tom Wolfe and the mission to bring literature back into journalism

Tom Wolfe, the dashing, white-suited journalist-novelist with a Ph.D. from Yale in American civilization and a vocabulary equal to that of William F. Buckley, satirical skills not dissimilar to those of Kurt Vonnegut, H.L. Mencken and Mark Twain (not to mention Shakespeare’s rival, Ben Jonson, the gimlet-eyed satirist), a Southerner whose tradition-battering stories in the New York Herald Tribune in the early 1960s made him principally responsible for starting the first new direction in American literature in a half-century, the iconoclastic, initially detested-by-the-fourth-estate New Journalism (which really goes back to Daniel Defoe’s “Diary of a Plague Year”), died Monday at 87.

Read more in the Chicago Tribune »

Mike’s Interview with Hippocampus Magazine

Mike discusses the Library of America’s new volumes on Norman Mailer’s works of the sixties.

Read More

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