Monday, November 22, 2010


While working at setting down tile today, I heard the news Norris Church Mailer had passed away. She was an author, mother, former model, and Norman Mailer's last wife. She was only 61. A few years ago, one very early spring, Sweetheart and I jumped into the truck and took a drive down to Cape Cod and went to where we always go, Provincetown. It was still very sleepy in tourist town and the weather was wet and ragged when we arrived. As she does, Sweetheart went to read the community bulletin board at the Grand Union to see what was going on. Dark was coming on. We hadn't eaten. She saw that Norris Church Mailer was reading that evening in the town library. I said, "Let's go."

Nice big white library at the center of town, run and used by all sorts of book lovers. We know the place and went through a side door and could hear the reading had already begun.

Norris Church Mailer was what she might term a southern belle — attractive, great eyes and lots of spunk. She was reading to maybe 30 local folks in a parlor setting, circled with books and the walls decorated nicely in wood craftsmanship. Norman Mailer was in the front row, now nearing the end of his life, sitting with crutches that would help move him like a human crab when it was time to leave. We snuck some chocolate chip cookies early from the reception table and called that supper (life on the road) and went in to enjoy the reading.

Norris Church Mailer once said she reached to read People Magazine before The New York Review of Books. Yes, she was enjoying herself at this reading. So were we. We were but strangers, but I got the feeling everyone seemed to know and like the author when she was done.
She knew she would never write
War & Peace. Or The Naked and the Dead.
She had something else to offer.

It was southern hospitality. It gets me every time.

I was playing this piece of music when I heard of her passing.

Photo courtesy the LA Times