Mailer Review Focuses on Author's Wife

Norris Church Mailer – inspiration and luminary in her own right – is highlighted in the latest issue of the Norman Mailer journal.

By Barbara Melendez

USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (Jan. 30, 2012) – An intimate and intriguing portrait emerges of Norman Mailer’s wife, Norris Church Mailer, in writings found in the latest issue of The Mailer Review.


“…and so much more than ‘the great man’s wife,” writes author Margo Howard describing her friend Norris Church Mailer in one of several heartfelt remembrances in the latest issue of The Mailer Review. Edited by University of South Florida English Professor Phillip Sipiora with Guest Editor John Buffalo Mailer and Deputy Editor Michael L. Shuman, the journal’s fifth edition is dedicated to Norris Mailer. The first third of the volume is devoted to her with words of love and appreciation for her remarkable and rewarding life.


From Sipiora’s Reflections and her children’s (John, Matthew, Danielle, Elizabeth, Maggie, Michael and Susan) tributes, to those of a host of friends, a fascinating picture emerges of someone whose beauty and talent were never obscured by her husband’s fame and notoriety.


“Working on this issue of the journal was especially poignant.  We lost Norman in 2007 and had only three more years with Norris,” said Sipiora. “All of us in the Norman Mailer Society miss them both terribly.  But, as I wrote in this issue, we were determined to produce an ‘affirmative celebration’ of her life. Norris was that special a human being and this fact comes through in every piece written about her.”


Norris Church Mailer was the author of three books, including her recent memoir, A Ticket to the Circus.


Articles of a scholarly bent make up the rest of the issue, several with a focus on Norman Mailer as filmmaker.  Other articles discuss some of his seminal works, The Naked and the Dead, The Castle in the Forest, The White Negro and his appearance in the pages of Playboy Magazine and one Mailer’s obsession with Marilyn Monroe.

Andrew Gordon reviews Mailer’s “Later Fictions,” Christopher Busa reviews The Castle in the Forest and Lawrence R. Broer explores “Mailerian Sub-Texts in For Whom the Bell Tolls” in his essay Hemingway’s Second War: Bearing Witness to the Spanish Civil War.  Hemingway in relation to Mailer is the subject of Kim Moreland’s Hemingway and Women at the Front and Jennifer Yirinec’s The Concept of Irreversibility: Hannah Arendt and Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants,” and Alexander Hicks’ From Here to Eternity and The Naked and the Dead: Premiere to Eternity?

James Toback offers a classic interpretation in Norman Mailer Today and Gerald R. Lucas looks at Norman Mailer and the Novel 2.0.  Donald L. Kaufmann, a professor English at USF, who according to the journal, “holds one of the largest Mailer collections of books, stories, essays, memorabilia and ephemera” has written Cluster Seeds and the Mailer Legacy. He is the author of Norman Mailer: The Countdown: The First Twenty Years, the first of two books on his agenda.

Shuman says, “Mailer was a dynamic and independent man, and often we forget that he had boundless support and inspiration from people around him. I think this issue demonstrates that Norris was an engaging author in her own right and that she influenced Mailer’s work – for the better – with her great good will and wonderful sense of humor. ”


For more information on how to obtain copies of The Mailer Review, and about the forthcoming Mailer conference (yet to be announced), visit


Barbara Melendez can be reached at 813-974-4563.