Anne Barry, Norman Mailer’s secretary in the early 1960s, comments on an advance copy of Norman Mailer: A Double Life:
Mike Lennon sent me at advance review copy (a fancy name for bound page proofs) of the Mailer biography last week. It lacks photographs and index, but is otherwise the book as it will look when it is released in October. It is monumental–928 pages. I rate a couple of paragraphs, which is proportionately just about right, when you see how many people that man knew and how many adventures he had. He knew hundreds and hundreds of people, and everyone who met him even once has a Norman story to tell. Somewhere in there someone remembered meeting me at one of Norman’s parties, and he described me as “A small girl with chubby cheeks and enormous horn-rimmed glasses.” Such was my beauty at the age of 22.
I admit I didn’t start the book at the beginning; I began in the 1950’s somewhere, and read as best I could from there. It’s a print book, not an e-book, and the type isn’t very big, but fortunately the type is in high contrast to the white paper, and I can read it, more or less. These eyes miss individual letters in some words, but I can always make out the gist of each sentence. I couldn’t put it down. The biography is so fine-grained, with so many bits quoted from Norman’s letters, that I heard his voice and could see him so clearly, I expected him to walk in the door at any moment.
I told David I had no idea if someone who didn’t know Norm would be as fascinated as I, and David said, “Let me put it to The Test.” David opens a new book at random, reads a sentence, and if he wants to keep on reading, he knows it’s a good book. In this case, he read a sentence, and then laughed, and kept on reading, and was compelled to read some of the best bits aloud. This augers well for it becoming a best seller.
Read more on Anne Barry’s blog.