February 13, 2021
Today, I worked on a bit of grading and teaching miscellany before I started a draft for Norman Mailer’s essay “In the Red Light”—his 1964 account of the Republican convention in San Francisco. My friend and society colleague Jason Mosser wrote most of what I started with, and I worked my Wikipedia formatting magic. I wrote the lead, and edited some of what he sent. I’ll need to add a bit more to the whole thing, including the bibliography, before I publish it to the main space. Mosser’s been on a roll—first, “Superman Comes to the Supermarket” and now this. Nice work.
I need to get to work on my letter for my post-tenure review coming up. I think I know how I’m going to start it. I’ve been thinking about it over the past couple of days during my runs, and I just need to sit down and write it.
Happy weekend, all.
Speaking of Mailer, Mike found a new interview that we have to add to Works & Days. Here’s my attempt.
BBC Interview by Roy Plomley on his show, Desert Island Discs, 15 December 1979. Recorded during the publicity tour for The Executioner’s Song (79.14), this 40-minute interview spans his career and is framed by Mailer’s desert-island musical selections. Major points, from his early days at Harvard where he discovered the “joy of writing,” his disappointment at having missed serving in Europe during World War II, to his foray into filmmaking, to his writing habits and personal life, are all discussed. Mailer acknowledges his appreciation for jazz which begins in his early career and grows in the sixties and through several marriages. Mailer states: “If there is any moment in my life that music became terribly important to me it was with American jazz, the jazz of the ’50s. I use to hang out at a place called The Five Spot. It was absolutely famous in small circles in those days. . . . We used to hear Thelonious Monk there and once in a while, Miles Davis. Once in a great while Sonny Rollins. I chose records of Sonny Stitt and Sonny Rollins, and Miles Davis because it brings back that period to me. It’s a very rich period, a period where everything started in America.” When asked about his desert-island book, Mailer replies: “Labyrinths by Borges. . . . It’s immensely complex and tremendously compressed. There’s enough in that one work, an expression of his best pieces over the years . . . to keep my mind interested for many a year.” See 81.16, 89.5a, 07.44.