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).
Today I received the first copy of Norman Mailer: A Double Life, which gave me a clear and present thrill. The bio came in at 947 pages—763 of text, the rest are devoted to notes, bibliography, index, and acknowledgements. The photos, 53 of them, are clear and well-presented. Most of them have not been seen before.
It will be in bookstores on October 15, and I am told that reviews of it should begin appearing around that time. Amazon has just reduced the price of the book to $24; the e-book version is $19.99.
Simon & Schuster publicity chief, Maureen Cole, just sent me the attached information sheet on the bio, and a brief Q and A. If you would like to review the book, or have questions about readings and appearances, she can be contacted at maureen.cole@simonandschuster.
Thanks to all of you who helped me on this project over the past seven years, and earlier. There is always a posse of supporters riding with biographers to round up the information needed for their books, and I am fortunate to have so many thoughtful friends and colleagues helping out.