Carole Mallory's life has been filled with colorful people, events and intimate relationships.
In LOVING MAILER, Mallory details her passionate affair with the renowned author and Pulitzer Prize winner. Known for his controversial subject matter and larger than life persona, Mailer led a life rife with personal conflict six wives and multiple affairs engender. During his marriage to his sixth wife, Mailer became Mallory's mentor, and she became his muse and mistress, in what was to become the definitive relationship of her life.
Mallory masterfully illustrates their steamy encounters and Mailer's most intimate qualities, revealing unknown sides of the literary genius. Mallory's smart writing from humorous to lascivious, will keep readers engrossed in this intense memoir of psychological and physical seduction."
A few weeks after meeting Norman, I read in the New York Times that he would be speaking at the Thalia at a retrospective of his film work. The event was sold out; nevertheless, during January’s worst snow storm, I trudged to the old movie house on West 96th Street. A SOLD OUT sign hung in the window of the dimly lit box office. It was 8:00 p.m.
“Do you have one ticket?” I asked anyway.
“You’re in luck,” the man said. “You get the last seat.”
Destiny. I was meant to meet Norman again.
The theater was packed. I squeezed into a middle row of the tiny movie house.
Wearing a navy pullover with patches over the elbows, a white shirt, and khakis, Norman stood center stage and introduced himself. The audience cheered and whistled.
A few booed good-naturedly.
“Boo to you, too,” Norman said, chuckling. He held his belly with both hands as though he were insulating himself from the crowd and spoke about his films: Wild 90, Beyond the Law. “In Maidstone when I hit Rip Torn with the hammer, that scene was improvisation. Blood kept running out of his nose, but we kept filming. He didn’t speak to me for years, but judge for yourselves the results.”
The audience hooted. Norman glowed, eager to please his fans. After interminable hours of watching each of his films and listening to his lectures, I was exhausted by him. Much of the audience had walked out. Norman would not leave the stage.
“Any more questions?” he asked, until no one dared to raise a hand. His
insatiable need for attention showed a narcissistic streak, yet his patience and willingness to share his creativity showed a generosity of spirit. Norman’s character had so many contradictions.
Throughout the evening I had been trying to concoct a way to meet Norman again. He had to read my manuscript, my autobiography focusing on my life in Hollywood. I had to make this happen. How? Appeal to his wit. He likes to and needs to laugh. There’s so much tragedy to this man. Be light. Sunshine. No pressure. Oh, how do I find the nerve to write the winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, two National Book Awards, and author of twenty-five books? I thought, rummaging through my handbag for paper and pen. Out of my Filofax, I tore a blank page and scribbled a few sentences.
“Dear Mr. Mailer, We met at Elaine’s a few weeks ago with Buzz Farber. Consider this note valid for one cheeseburger at the Lenox Hill Coffee Shop. 74th & Lex. Tomorrow at 11 a.m. Kindly RSVP.” And I wrote my number.
What a dumb note. But I couldn’t tell him I’d written something I wanted him to read. How would I get this note to him?
Somewhere after midnight Norman said, “If any of you have further questions, I’ll be in the back of the theater for a few minutes. Thank you for coming.”
I stayed in my seat until most of the audience left and kept my eyes on Norman. The rear of the theater was dark, but I made my way along with the crowd and stood on the edge of a circle of die-hard fans quizzing Norman.
After a half an hour, a few people remained. It was time. I inhaled, grabbed my note and plunged forward, introducing myself.
“I remember you,” Norman said. His face brightened.
“Could I invite you to brunch tomorrow?” I said. “You see, I leave town in two days.” My legs trembled. My voice, almost a whine.
Norman scanned my note and smiled. “I’ll meet you at eleven. If I can’t make it, I’ll call.”
“Thanks for the great evening,” I said, then turned around and hurried out of the theater. How could I have done such a brazen thing?
I remembered the time before my father got sick. He drove into a nudist
camp to tease my mother, who was Pennsylvania Dutch. “Pulling her leg” or
“getting her goat” he used to call it. My father parked the car right in the middle of a wooded area where naked bathers were returning from the lake.
“Do you want me to get a divorce, Herb?” Mother shouted while my sister and I crouched down in the backseat and giggled as we peered every so often
out the window at the nudists.
I loved my father for this. For his defiance of public opinion. He sold fire insurance, and the day after there had been a fire on the block, my father would knock on the neighbors’ doors and ask if they wanted fire insurance.
Mother would scold him about this, but he would just do it again.
My father would have been proud of what I had done. Now I had to organize my writings and thoughts for Norman. Out of the five hundred pages, what did I want him to read? Would he really show up?
I certainly hoped so. He was so funny. Charming. He reminded me of my father. He was old enough to be my father. Pity he was married. Didn’t matter because he wasn’t my type. Stay focused on the writing, I told myself as I walked out of the Thalia into the snowy night on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. I was alone and felt good. The snow was deep. The stars bright. And I was about to make a new friend. A writer. A very good writer. A genius.