New York, N.Y., November 2008 – An authorized biography of Norman Mailer has been acquired by Simon & Schuster, it was announced today. The book is being written by J. Michael Lennon, a longtime friend of Mailer’s and a professor at Wilkes University. Personally chosen by Mailer as his official biographer, Lennon will have the cooperation of the Mailer estate, and base the book in part on his extensive interviews with Mailer over the past several years, as well as access to Mailer’s unpublished works and letters at the Harry Ransom Center of the University of Texas.
Lennon is the late Mailer’s archivist and has written/edited several books about him, including Norman Mailer: Works and Days, Critical Essays on Norman Mailer, Conversations with Norman Mailer, Norman Mailer’s Letters on An American Dream, 1963-69, and most recently, On God: An Uncommon Conversation, co-authored with Mailer. He is the current president of The Norman Mailer Society and past president of The James Jones Literary Society. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Paris Review, Playboy, Provincetown Arts, New York, Modern Fiction Studies, New England Review, Narrative and Journal of Modern Literature, among others.
Lennon commented: “I met Norman in 1972 and we became good friends over the years. I have been collecting material for this biography almost from the beginning of our relationship. Beginning in 2003, Norman did a series of in-depth interviews with me on his life and work with the clear sense that the historical record had to be preserved. These interviews, along with others with his widow Norris and other family and friends will be essential to my effort. Norman Mailer lived a fantastically full and dramatic life, and a productive one. He was the chief interpreter of the last half of the American century, and his major works, including THE NAKED AND THE DEAD, ADVERTISEMENTS FOR MYSELF, THE ARMIES OF THE NIGHT and THE EXECUTIONER’S SONG, changed the rhythms of American prose. No career in our literature has been as brilliant, varied, public, prolific and controversial.”
World rights to the book were acquired by Simon & Schuster Executive Vice President and Publisher David Rosenthal from John Taylor “Ike” Williams of Kneerim & Williams. The book will be edited by VP and Senior Editor Bob Bender. Rosenthal said: “With his interviews with Mailer, his close friends and family members, and access to the Mailer Archive, Mike Lennon is the very best person to undertake this biography. It is a monumental life that will get the book it deserves.”
Simon & Schuster, a part of the CBS Corporation, is a global leader in the field of general interest publishing, dedicated to providing the best in fiction and nonfiction for consumers of all ages, across all printed, electronic, and audio formats. Its divisions include Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing, Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, Simon & Schuster Audio, Simon & Schuster Digital, and international companies in Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom.