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Everyone Here Hates Him

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Maurice Zolotow accused him of plagiarism when Mailer's Marilyn came out. He may have gotten most of his facts about her from Zolotow, but he interpreted them in a most unique style.

Marilyn Monroe was just a little before my time. I remember the day she died because the adults were all talking about her "suicide." But when Mailer's book came out with her photographs, I became a Marilyn fan. I enjoyed his writing style and I'd never seen anyone so beautiful in my life -- and neither had Mailer. He admitted a certain love for her, and hated Arthur Miller for not introducing Monroe to him. He condemned Miller for not deriving more inspiration from her -- a cowboy story (The Misfits) and a short story (Please Don't Kill Anything). Mailer felt he would have made a much better husband for her. Marilyn's perfume, Chanel No. 5, smelled like the worst of dimestore stink, he said -- but he didn't know how it smelled on her skin. He went on to write Of Women and Their Elegance, a novel about the secret life of Monroe and a play Strawhead, which I never saw or read.

Mailer described the outrage met when people saw Miller's Broadway play, After the Fall. This play would succumb to Opening Night Death except for the tragic character of Maggie, aka Marilyn Monroe. The play "comes alive" when she's onstage, Mailer noted. After the resultant roar, Miller stupidly denied the play was about her.

Miller depicted her as phony and stupid. His character, Quentin, goes on to realize he never loved her; breasts? Other women had breasts. Maggie becomes a drunk. In short, he created an unflattering portrait of his ex, dead from "suicide" and childless. He and his new wife immediately had a child.

Fellow writers and actors condemned Miller for putting his dead wife onstage. After the Fall debuted in 1964, but he had begun writing it when Marilyn was alive. I can't imagine how she would have reacted to his public characterization of her. This was once love?

Mailer wrote The Presidential Papers about President Kennedy, which was published in November 1963, the same month of Kennedy's death. Mailer said his worst moment came when he was in a bar on Nov. 22, 1963 and it came over the TV that Kennedy was shot. Oh, he's just doing this so we'll know how much we need him, Mailer said skeptically. Then it came over that Kennedy was dead, assassinated, and the reality hit him.

JFK researchers know Mailer best as the author of Oswald's Tale, a book in search of Lee Harvey Oswald and conspiracy. Mailer failed to find anything provable about a Conspiracy to kill President Kennedy. He more or less wrote that Oswald could have killed Kennedy alone, while a conspiracy to kill Kennedy may have been in effect -- shooters on the Grassy Knoll. Oswald may or may not have been involved. Mailer has a section where he describes activity in the Texas Theater. Oswald was dragged out of the movie theater from the front of the building in a near riot of policemen. Then Mailer mentions that at the same time a merchant next door to the theater saw cops peacefully taking Oswald out the back of the building. This here might be why Mailer's book failed. Did he realize that 2 people had used the identity Lee Harvey Oswald? Did this possiblility overwhelm him? Confuse him? Was he threatened, emasculated, about the outcome of the book?

Researchers came to believe that Mailer wrote this book for some entity in the govt or big business. And his rumored tax problems disappeared like dust from the pages of old Conspiracy books. Mailer was excommunicated from the company of Conspiracy believers: a turncoat.

Norman Mailer was my favorite author. One phrase sticks in my mind: "...with the breath of a turnip." He had an imagination like no other writer, a skill for getting into the skin of his characters or the famous people he wrote about. Except for Oswald's Tale, his point of view was always unique and his interests varied. I, for one, will miss him along with his imperfections. Whether it was stabbing his Puerto Rican wife in 1960; or liberating an inmate from prison because of his writing skill, only to have the man stab a waiter to death because he looked at him funny.

Norman Mailer was 84.

Kathy Collins

Edited by Kathleen Collins
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Although Kathleen seems to remove herself from the category by one of her comments, I think the title of her post is instructive: "Everyone here hates him."

It seems that at least a substantial minority of members literally HATE anyone whose politics or POV on the assassination runs contrary to theirs. This is IMO very unfortunate.

I may DETEST someones politics but find the person espousing them to be an intelligent and decent individual. Moreover, when I do not hate the person I often find that I was wrong to detest their politics; often they have views worth considering.

Mailer's book "Harlot's Ghost" was a very interesting read, by the way. I think a lot of you would enjoy reading its fictional account of JJA, E Howard Hunt, JMWAVE, etc.

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Two Mailer anecdotes:

1. Soon after the publication of his Oswald and the CIA, John Newman reported that Mailer said to him, "We've established base camp on different sides of the same mountain."

2. Mailer appeared at a Dallas JFK conference (I believe it was an ASK symposium) to promote Oswald's Tale. Without telling me, George Michael Evica had arranged to have me join Mailer on stage to read from my then-as-now unfinished novel, Autumn Too Long before the great one read from his LHO book. I learned this after the fact; luckily for me and audience members, my flight was diverted by a strike, and I spent the night in question at a Raleigh-Durham area motel.

The rest is misery.


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Hate is a strong word. While I disagreed with Mr. Mailer's conclusions about Lee Oswald as presented in the book Oswald's Tale, I certainly never hated him. I feel it is possible to disagree with someone's politics and/or ideas yet admire him/her and appreciate his/her contributions.

Perhaps I'm just young and naive...

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I feel it is possible to disagree with someone's politics and/or ideas yet admire him/her and appreciate his/her contributions.


Of course you're correct -- to a point.

I would submit that it is not possible for an honorable, informed man or woman who knows that, beyond all doubt, JFK was killed by conspirators to admire/appreciate a person who shares that knowledge yet who wilfully denies it.

We are at war with the killers of JFK.



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Is it true that he once stabbed his wife? Something about being an existentialist. That's all I remember.

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Norman Mailer was a leftist, Castro-admiring member of the FPCC.

But according to Charles Drago, he LIED when he stated he thought Oswald acted alone.

No, Tim. There is no evidence to support such a claim.

Based upon your statement above, you are either a mistaken or an idiot.

Charles Drago

Edited by Kathy Beckett
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Charles, thanks for the acknowledgement that if my post was factually incorrct, I am "mistaken" and not a "xxxx".

But do you question that Mailer was a supporter of the FPCC? I am absolutely certain I am correct about that.

So clarify your objection and I will research it if necessary.

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