Sunday, August 15, 2010

Norman Mailer's letter to Ernest Hemingway after his novel, The Deer Park was rejected by eight publishers and finally taken by Putnam's




TO ERNEST HEMINGWAY
--because finally after all these
years I am deeply curious to know
what you think of this.
--but if you do not answer, or you do answer with the same kind of crap you use to answer unprofessional writers, syncopants, brown-nosers, etc., then fuck you, and I will never attempt to communicate with your again.

--and since i suspect the you're even vainer than I am, I migh as well warn you that ther is reference to on page 000 which you may or may not like.

Norman Mailer.


Discuss.

13 comments:

JR's Thumbprints said...

Now here's a true word-pugilist; he comes out swinging. I could never do this. I deal with high levels of testosterone at work and by the time I get home I drop my guard.

Mona said...

That is one vain writer for sure. He was truly a Canon writer, like his contemporaries, Lawrence and Miller!

the walking man said...

and Hemingway's reply was? Something along the line of "Eat shit kid" I am guessing. Either that or Mailers note upset him so much he took the poets option.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Mark,

I think Papa just went to the Cantina and started his day early, since Heningways's wife, Mailer thought, had made an executive decision: Return it.

Says Mailer in Advertisements for Myself,

About ten days later, the book came back in the mail. Stamped all over it was the Spanish equivalent of Address Unknown--Return to Sender.

(He then tried eight other luminaries in vogue, and with the exception of his friend, Alberto Moravia, receive no replies).
This double rejection, published book or no published book, greatly depressed Mailer.
He wrote,
... it occurs to me now that I must have courted the memory of a silent shame which helpled to push me further and further of bold assertions, half done work unbalanced heroics, and an odd notoriety of my own choice. I was on the edge of many things and had more than a bit of violence in me.

Well, Mailer was Mailer, and as Lana Gramlich once reminded me, Ivan is only Ivan, but I have at least this in common with the great man that my The Black Icon, had been rejected eight times also.
...Thank God I got a job in the media, published it through my influence in the media--and had a good dump.
...And I guess so did Mailer. His "Advertisements for Myself" is a masterpiece of autobiography.

Charles Gramlich said...

Lol. I don't know what I'd do if I got a letter like that. Perhaps lucky I'll never get one.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Jim,

I guess you're out there in the trenches...Mailer does say somewhere that when it comes to writing vs being a man, better to be a man than a writer...But that was before the days of Helen Gurley Brown, I suppose.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Mona,

People used to joke in the Cucaracha bar in San Migues de Allende, Mexico:

"Miller's got a new book out."

Oh? What's he calling it?"

Fuck you, , a novel by Henry Miller.

It would have been fun to have a review of a book like that, especially references and foonotes.

e.g.:

FN 1 Fuck you p.80

Op/Cit:

Fuck you.

Ibid:

Fuck you.

Astersk *

fuck you.

Dagger fuck you.

Double dagger:

Go f*ck yourself.

Ha.

ivan said...

Charles,

Yep. Would be an odd feeling.

I think both of us are in the position of getting letters of entreaty, the latest to me from one Vincent Spada, poetry and children's book writer.

I must say, I did like his "What The Kitten said the the Cat."

It has great charm and seems to get a bit above the usual run of illustrated kids' books.

About gettng a letter like the one composed by Norman Mailer, don't worry. You will yet get one.

My latest note, in blog anyway was,
"You're an idiot."

I presume it was from a former spouse.

I had answered with, "Crikey, I knew that. Now tell me something."

Donnetta Lee said...

Oh, the vanity of writers. He knows the type answer he will most likely get and goes fishing anyway. Throw me a crumb, he implies, reinforcing my self perceived genius. Or maybe true genius.

We knew of a lady once, in upstate New York when I was a kid, who claimed to have slept with Norman Mailer. Can't recall her name. I believe she might have slept with almost anyone. D

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Donnetta,

The awesomely gifted (and cute) Norman Mailer certainly got around.
Six times married, finally to Norris Church, of Arkansas.

Here is how she described their firs encounter.
"I was an art teacher in Arkansas with a young child, and he was on a lecture tour. I thought: "Oh my gosh, there's Norman Mailer, I can get my book signed!" I wasn't thinking about romance -- he was older than my dad. Then I met him and thought: "This guy's not that old! He's very interesting. And cute!" From that moment on we were together. I quit my job, sold my house and car, and got my kid and moved to New York to be with him. It was a totally nutty thing to do. Everyone thought I was out of my mind. I didn't think about all the what-ifs; I knew Norman had seven children and had been married five times before, but when it's the right thing for you to do, you don't even question it."
Source: Katherine Kingsley. "Norris Church Mailer Interview." Sunday times of London. 08/26/2007.

benjibopper said...

Frankly it strikes me as childish. "Give me what I want or I'll never talk to you again!" Kinda sad to see that from one of the luminaries. But, of course, the luminaries are/were human.

Ivan, I thought you might find this article of interest: http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2010/08/a-self-publishers-primer-to-enhanced-e-books-and-book-apps224.html. Perhaps another option for distribution of your work.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Yes, Benji.

And sometimes we neophytes imitate the actions of a petulant tiger.

When I was writing for Starweek, Toronto, I was on a Hemingway kick, as I was using the very desks and typewriters of The Great Man when he had been with The Star.

Said the editor,
"You seem to come on like six-foot-four in the body of a guy five-foot-eight. Tough guy. Boss...And you write like a tough guy. But you're not, you're really not."
But he did, oddly, send me on the same kind of assignment they once sent Hemingway, whom Harry Hindmarsh, his editor hated.
"Take the longest streetcar ride in Town, Queen Street-- fifteen miles. Give me your impressions."

Hemingway had come back with a crackerjack story, the ride somehow reminding him of taking the Staten Island Ferry in New York; the ferry seemed to go everywhere...And so did the Queen Street streetcar in Toronto.
...Well, I came back having intereviwed the streetcar conductor, whose passion in life was to be a railroad engineer...Well, he was. Kinda.
The story worked. Made the front page...I tried to find it in Star files but Google doesn't seem to have that old story from 1972.

I'll check out the links you have provided. Thanks.

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