Wednesday, October 28, 2015


N O R M A N    M A I L E R


December 19, 1959

Dear Michael McClure,

    I had a hard time reading your letter because like most poets you
write a prose which is an assault on the nervous system of a stylist. I think
it probably has something to do with the mother-love most boy poets get
when they are young and while I'm certain the inner workings of your
mind are a thing of surrealist beauty the expression in prose is so
damned self indulgent that I recoil because you see, baby, everyone I
knew who has any talent is certain that their own mind is the most beautiful
work yet created by God (Paul Carroll said a couple of weeks ago,
"The Devil is the most beautiful creation of God"). But one's style is the
hero of one's art and a hero with bad manners never makes no history
so you would do well to consider all your competitors, large and small,
older and younger than you as being equally greedy and self absorbed
and so never look to them for praise, for love, for attention and certainly
never offer them the spoils of your brain in a casual and styleless
letter since they will only put you down.
     [Don] Carpenter is right. I said that you were beat and not hip and
people who are beat do not really interest me because they are in need
and I do not care to run a free restaurant. I liked you well enough, I
thought you were a saucy little cat but then I began to dig that New York
was not your town and I like it because it is hard and true as negative
truth is true. I had the feeling I might be able to enjoy your company in
a few years when you are harder and less in love with yourself but until
then you were in my book just another royal mountain climber who was
hoping you don't have to get killed or even lose a little on the way up.
     Best to you and cheers,

Random House 2014