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.


Charles Gramlich said...

I guess you could say be careful what you wish for.

ivan said...


I never tried genre writing. Would this qualify as a fantasy or something? What the hell. Discipline. I had to write sumpin.

the walking man said...

Why would Prokopchuk want to be Mailer's Boris? You seem more a Bukowski's Henry Chinaski to me. But then why be him either? Why try?

ivan said...


Hadn't written a short story for years.And to me a story isn't any good unless it's steroscopic. Had to produce something even if I used myself as grist for my own mill.

eric1313 said...

You are Ivan. God made you that way and we all rather enjoy reading about your take on everything in the world.

Perhaps we are easy to please.

But maybe... one of us knows what we are talking about when we direct people to this blog in order to read some of the best writng available on the interwebboverse.

I'll be back soon. Up in the DJ booth tonight. $2 bass pale ale and Guiness... Should I start you a tab? (and lose it at last call, of course... everything Boris orders is free of charge, right?)

ivan said...

Wow, Eric. Thanks and hello stranger!

I came across some nice people in Arkansas, quite by accident...Actually somebody plowed into my car and I had to stay in a motel for a while and came acrosss this really cool guy named Orville who introduced me to the town and his family, and they showed me some real Southern hospitality. Arkansas folk seem really nice people, up against it, but give you the shirt off their backs. I guess you are getting acclimatized.
Well. Sounds like a feather in your cap over there. In charge of much and now a DJ...Writers are durn versattile people, aren't they. Over here too, jack of all trades and sort of good at a couple...Meanest delivery driver in the valley. Flash Courier, speedy mercurial figure. The other job description is demagogue.
Heh. Social activist, freelance politician. Emcee introduces me at events as an "outspoken writer."

Like in the Apochrapha. "Whatever thy hand finds to do..."...Well, you're beholding there, under the sun. Joseph in Egypt, and way to go.
Thank you for the kind words and, as I've said elsewhere, keep the aspidistra flying.

Erik Donald France said...

This is cool. I dig.

Happy Hallowe'en, man!

ivan said...

Thanks Erik Donal France.

Happily, I didn't have to fight with Blogger to get thos photos set up the way I wanted to to follow the story.

JR's Thumbprints said...

I don't know of any women who would like to be Norman Mailer ... except maybe Cher's daughter ... er ... son ... maybe he/she would like to be Norman Mailer. How's that for a transformation?

ivan said...


Thanks for the info.

A Chastity with a Bono-on? The mind boggles.

Middle Ditch said...

Who was (is) Mailer? Canadian?

How are you Ivan, I haven't seen you for ages.

Mona said...

But I wonder why he wanted to be like Mailer. Why he wanted to be a carbon copy, when just by being himself he could have been the original!!

Mona said...

I may not be a witch come by, but...Happy Halloween anyway :)

ivan said...

Hi Monique,
Yes, long time no see. You were missed.
About my hero, Norman Mailer.

Norman Mailer was a famous "New York" American author. Famous for writing "The Naked and the Dead", the definitive American novel of the taking of one of the islands that led to Tokyo during the Second World War.
The lucky world was not short of any infomation about Mr. Mailer He actually loved to boast. He loved to paint himself as his own character in his novels and later, in his journalism, he grew to offering all sorts of insight to others about himself. He loved to brag, and he really had a lot to brag about. He was a fine writer. And for a while, everybody agreed. No one writer still alive of of his own generation could touch him. He saw himself as a "champion writer", like a great novelist and boxer Hemingway,who was well known as a boxer besides writer. Mailer wanted to be a fighter --but in literature and not pugilistics. He wanted to be the the "Champion Writer" of all time, a kind of of literary Michael Jackson after Elvis Presley, Mailer after Hemingway. He wanted to wear Hemingway's crown as "champion writer of all time." (Beesides the former's pugilistic skills,Hemingway was, of couse a great literary man. Heminway was good at all sports, but better still at action writing.
Mr. Mailer, meanwhile, was good at two things: writing, and mammoth drinking bouts. Also demagoguery, as seen in his anti war speeches during the Wahington Peace March in the fall of l967.
Mr. Mailer wrote the brilliant "Armies of the Night" which described that March on Washington by tens of thousands of war protesters and top left-wing intellectuals of that time--went out to demonstrate, including, of course, Norman Mailer.
"Armies of the Night" had Mailer as hero of this own journalistic tome, which, not surprizingly won the Pulitzer Prize.
His intent was to get the Nobel, but in this he fell short, describing himself first as a probable "Prize Winner", but later shortening it "PoW" as in Prisoner of War. He knew he would never get the Nobel and he didn't, though he won just about every available award in American literature.

Much earlier, had had a down period in about l955, where his third novel, The Deer Park was described by critics as "sordid" and "crummy"....Hard for an ego like Mailer's to take.
So he wrote a brilliant autobiography, Advertisements For Myself which won a National Book Award.
As he grew older he wrote more straight novels, including The Executioner's Song about Death Row murderer, Gilmour, serial killer. And Ancient Evenings, about old Egyptian Pharaohs. Through his writings, Mr. Mailer seemed to attempt unlimited subject matter, including, the initiation of, With Hunter S.Thompson and Tom Wolfe--something called The New Journalism.

He died last year, writing to the end.

I guess I picked a pretty impressive guy to emulate

ivan said...

Hello Mona.

Some of us never feel really authentic.

I went out on Halloween with sandals and a beard and "Writer" on my T-shirt, all the while in fear of being arrested for imitating a writer.

Midnight said...

Ivan, as long as you have fire in your soul, you are, and always will be, a Kozak.

This is not something I or You or even (other) legendary Kozaks (Cossacks) made up. From my understanding, it was a compliment from historical enemies.

(References lost, due to annihilation.)

ivan said...


I come from the westermost part of Ukraine. Almost Tansylvania. There is a full moon out tonight. Take precautions. Be a hip Ukainian. Wear garlic.

Midnight said...


Actually, my father was a Hutzul from Kolymya, and my mother from a smaller town nearby. No wonder we're nuts.

ivan said...

For some reason, this all reminds me of a joke told to my by an old alumni of Baron Byng high school, Montreal, where Leonard Cohen went to school.
Goes like this:

A distraught father comes to an empty church to pray.

"Father, I have this son. He's a real troublemaker.

Voice booms out:


ivan said...


Funny thing. My folks are exactly from Kolomya, Ivano-Frankivsk.

Midnight said...

Heheh. Well, this explains alot. :)

Another funny thing is that my parents first met in Canada, after different circuitous routes.

ivan said...

Well, enough of the Schwager Lager.

We're here now.


Midnight said...

Na Zdorovlia!

Or, as the Polacks say, Nice Driveway!

ivan said...

Well, I kind of dig Poles.

That Kopernik guy was some astronomer.

And Chopinsky was pretty cool on the compositions.

Hey Kopernik!

Midnight said...

Wasn't Copernicus the first to suggest the world circles the Sun?

And Chopin, put it to music.

I dig Poles too, especially out of the flowerbed, when they're drunk. :)

In my teens, the only place my friend could hide booze from his Polish uncle, was in the garage....