Wednesday, October 28, 2009
A Borgesian fantasy. The man who became Norman Mailer
Who wouldn't like to have been Norman Mailer?
Boris wanted to be exactly like Norman Mailer, to take raw emotion and place it on the printed page, with elegance and tact.
Who wouldn't, like Mailer to have opened an autobiography with:
Like many another vain, empty, and bullying body of our time, I have been running for President these last ten years in the privacy of my mind, and it occurs to me that I am less close now than when I began. Defeat has left my nature divided, my sense of timing is eccentric, and I contain within myself the bitter exhaustions of an old man, and the cocky arguments of a bright boy. So I am everything by my proper age of thirty-six, and anger has brought me to the edge of the brutal.
Said Boris to himself: Well, I am twice that age, still angry and it seems that I am no closer to being a Mailer than when I first began.
Boris laboured for years and years, yet he could not achieve the James T. Farrell style of Norman Mailer. His stories were of simple peasants surviving world wars. Good, good enough, but nowhere near the the almost physical, certainly memorable prose of Mailer.
But some sort of kaleidoscopic trick has been achieved.
Boris could not write like Mailer. He could not even imitate the actions of his tiger hero. But Boris' body knew what to do. He began to be the very physical likeness of Norman Mailer.
If Boris could not possess Mailer's talent, I could at least look like him.
By age 71, Boris' transformation was almost complete. He gave s speech in a park to do with writing.
He saw his picture in a newspaper. Yes. Dead ringer. He could be Mailer.
Boris Spellchek, author of The Naked and the Dead.