Mornings with Mailer: A Recollection of Friendship [NOOK Book]


In the spring of 2003, Norman Mailer, who was then eighty years old, invited an improbable companion into his life: Dwayne Raymond, a young writer who was waiting tables at a restaurant in Provincetown, at the tip of Cape Cod, where Mailer spent most of his final years. Raymond became Mailer's aide in all matters professional and private, assisting the Pulitzer Prize–winning author on the four books he published during this time, including his last novel, The Castle in the Forest. As Raymond's responsibilities ...

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Mornings with Mailer: A Recollection of Friendship

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In the spring of 2003, Norman Mailer, who was then eighty years old, invited an improbable companion into his life: Dwayne Raymond, a young writer who was waiting tables at a restaurant in Provincetown, at the tip of Cape Cod, where Mailer spent most of his final years. Raymond became Mailer's aide in all matters professional and private, assisting the Pulitzer Prize–winning author on the four books he published during this time, including his last novel, The Castle in the Forest. As Raymond's responsibilities grew, so too did his closeness to Mailer, who in turn taught him how to navigate his own personal challenges.

In this touching memoir, Dwayne Raymond presents a loving portrait of Norman Mailer in his twilight years, depicting a quirky and complex but achingly human man so unlike the Mailer of disquieting legend. Beautifully written and honestly portrayed, Mornings with Mailer is a personal and revealing story of a great writer, his man Friday, and their unlikely but enduring friendship.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Here, readers will not find a profound dialog between an aging Norman Mailer and an admiring young student à la Mitch Albom's best seller Tuesdays with Morrie. Instead, they will discover an aspiring writer who within a short time is awarded an amazing level of trust by Mailer; his wife, Norris; and important others. Provincetown, RI, was home to the 80 year old when the unmoored Raymond finds himself waiting Mailer's table in a favorite restaurant. Their encounters are described as "happy accidents seasoned with significance" and lead to a proposal that puts Raymond in the Mailer home to assist on a project and "any number of things," including cooking on occasion. Everyday things are scrupulously described—"his impeccably groomed fingernails were short but sharp"—and tell of Mailer's work and leisure habits, the food he loves and abhors, his aversion to plastic, and of moody rants and quirks. VERDICT While readers may find a very human and always admirable Mailer, an insistent focus on Raymond's own role in Mailer's life undermines the veracity of his recollections.—Katharine A. Webb, Ohio State Univ. Libs., Columbus
Kirkus Reviews
Memories and reflections of a friendship with an American literary giant. Norman Mailer (1923-2007) seems to fit the idiom "larger than life" more suitably than almost any other literary figure in American letters, an iconic figure who has been both admired and reviled. A two-time Pulitzer winner, National Book Award winner and important voice in the New Journalism movement, he was an often boisterous and controversial figure in political, social and literary circles. Mailer is also known for his role in founding the Village Voice, as well as an unsuccessful primary bid for mayor of New York in 1969. First-time author Raymond, Mailer's personal assistant from 2003 to 2007, reveals a quieter, humbler writer in the waning years of his life at work in his seaside home in Provincetown, Mass. Glimpses of Mailer with his sixth wife, his adult children, friends and fans provide a picture of a more thoughtful, unassuming man. Raymond attempts to show Mailer as an extraordinary friend, father and neighbor, though does little to convince the reader of these qualities beyond superficial, commonplace and often bland descriptions of daily life. The mundane details-e.g., the author's love of borscht and his antipathy toward technology-provide little illumination. Raymond's friendship with Mailer is touching and full of admiration, but the book lacks unique description and details necessary to paint a vivid picture of this distinctive man's life. The author offers few enduring or intriguing insights other than some brief glimpses of Mailer's writing process for recent books like The Castle in the Forest (2007). Raymond's own story is only sketched in with brief interjections that seem more summary thannarrative and fail to enrich the story. Fans of Mailer will be disappointed. Author events in Boston and Cape Cod, Mass. Agent: John W. Wright/John Wright Literary Agency
Publishers Weekly - Library Journal
In 2003, hard at work and happily ensconced at his home in Provincetown, Mass., Norman Mailer invited young writer Raymond, a casual acquaintance, to become his assistant, beginning a relationship that would change Raymond's life and ease the end of the literary icon's. Raymond's responsibilities were varied, including researcher, cook, critic, and technology liaison, enabling him to catalog Mailer's idiosyncrasies in work and home life ("He would suggest I buy the best possible wine for dinner guests and then ask me to make sure we had plenty of Hershey's Bars"). Raymond was clearly enchanted with Mailer, and this intimate but respectful look at Mailer's life is entirely free of mudslinging; Mailer is portrayed as a devoted husband (to sixth wife Barbara), and an indulgent father. Through devoted eyes, Mailer emerges a witty, hard-working, tragic figure: discussing the Norman Mailer Society, he complains that "most authors are dead who have these societies. I feel slightly pushed ahead." Raymond also captures the sobering moments of a legend approaching its end, including a particular moving scene in which the extended family gathers around Mailer in a hospital room, passing around a clandestine rum cocktail.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
“So tender and funny that you don’t even have to be a Norman Mailer fan to be moved by it...You just have to be a fan of great men, valiantly facing the decline of their powers until they become, against their will, examples to us all.”
San Diego Union-Tribune
“Charming and poignant....From a firsthand observer like Raymond, you get a view of a writer you simply don’t from a more formal biography.”
Cape Cod Life
“Refreshingly, critically candid...The book is a quick 340 pages that could be read in a hurry or just as easily savored, digested, and considered.”
Cape Cod Times
“Mornings with Mailer is an affectionate recollection of Raymond’s time with Mailer…Of course, Raymond spent more than just mornings with Mailer, and the book describes the small moments with great warmth.”
Out Magazine
“A frank and tender account...Enlightening, rooted in the accumulation of everyday detail, from which a meticulous, deeply sympathetic portrait of Mailer emerges.
Boston Globe
“Tender...An illuminating look at the mind and methods of a Pulitzer Prize winner.”
Tom Piazza
“Mornings With Mailer is a tender and affectionate view of the protean author at the end of the Big Novel that was his life. Dwayne Raymond’s book offers a uniquely intimate perspective on one of our literary giants. Applause.”
Doris Kearns Goodwin
“In this moving memoir, Dwayne Raymond provides an intimate look at the daily routine of a great writer in the last years of his life. Raymond poignantly describes how Mailer fought like a lion to continue writing even as age and illness slowed him down.”
Harry Evans
“Dwayne Raymond adds another dimension to our appreciation of a great man’s genius, the paradoxes of his genial belligerence, his obstinacy at once maddening and endearing, and his unaffected originality. This is a fascinating touching memoir, and often funny too.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061966255
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/26/2010
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 352
  • File size: 394 KB

Meet the Author

Dwayne Raymond worked with Norman Mailer from April 2003 until Mailer's death in November 2007. Raymond contributes regularly to the Huffington Post, and has written for The New York Times Brief Guide to Essential Knowledge, The Mirror, In Newsweekly, and The Boston Reader. He lives in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: First Sight 1

1 An Agreeable Proposal 5

2 A Modest Interruption 33

3 The Writer's Table… and Other Passions 67

4 The Remover of Obstacles 103

5 Provincetown, Poker, and Friends 133

6 Building a Castle in the Forest 163

7 Mail, Media, and Matters of Men 195

8 Shifts 225

9 Days Out… and the Secret Book 245

10 Long Afternoons 283

11 Keeping November Open 309

12 The Red Dory 331

Acknowledgments 341

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