November 27, 2003
Dear Charter Members,
I write to forward the Minutes of our first meeting in Brooklyn on November 1st and to bring you up to date on recent developments and future meeting plans. But first I must say that the inaugural meeting, attended by approximately 80 members, was a success. The business meeting was followed by three extraordinary panel discussions among a dozen individuals and a very participatory audience. The rich discussion and many anecdotes amazed and gratified the membership. The luncheon speaker, writer Ron Rosenbaum, gave those assembled his perspective on Mailer’s theology of an embattled universe and drew prolonged applause. Mailer’s boxing partner in the 1970s, former light heavyweight champion Jose Torres was the final, unscheduled but very welcome, speaker. He brought the day to a close with several warm and humorous stories of boxing with Mailer and learning from Cus D’Amato. After a cocktail party in the room of presenter Mickey Knox, and dinner, many members walked over to 142 Columbia Heights, overlooking the harbor and the Brooklyn Bridge, where Mr. and Mrs. Mailer welcomed them warmly.
The proceedings were taped and are now in the process of being transcribed through the good offices of Mr. Lawrence Schiller. When this process is completed, excerpts will be posted on our web site. In addition, Society Secretary John Whalen-Bridge may use excerpts in a special number of the Journal of Modern Literature, devoted to Mailer’s works that he is editing for 2005 publication. We will keep you posted on these matters via the web site. A copy of the program for the November 1st meeting is enclosed for those who could not attend.
As you will note in the Minutes, The Society unanimously approved the establishment of The Robert F. Lucid Award for Mailer Studies in recognition of Professor Lucid’s long and distinguished career as a Mailer scholar-critic. The Lucid Award will be given annually based on the recommendation of a Society committee. The winner will receive a plaque and a $250 honorarium and be invited to speak at our annual meeting. Shortly after the conference we were contacted by Mr. Schiller and informed that the Lawrence Schiller Educational Trust will match all contributions, up to a total of $5,000, to an endowment set up to fund the Lucid Award and other Society endeavors. This generous gift is in addition to his earlier gift of $2,000 made to help defray Society start-up expenses. We are deeply grateful to Mr. Schiller for his gifts and for his moving presentation during the final panel of the day. A form is enclosed for those who wish to contribute to the endowment. Please consider making a gift in any amount, one that will automatically double because of the Schiller Trust’s match.
Two Norman Mailer panels have been scheduled for the annual American Literature Association conference at the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco, May 27–30, 2004. Abstracts of 250–350 words, and contact information should be sent to Professor John Whalen-Bridge (elljwb [at] nus.edu.sg) by January 15, 2004. Please encourage interested scholars to participate.
The next regular Society meeting, as approved by the membership on November 1st, will be in Provincetown, Massachusetts, in October or November 2004. A specific date will be chosen shortly and the membership will be notified. Mr. Mailer will be invited to attend the meeting, which will undoubtedly examine Tough Guys Don’t Dance in its 20th anniversary year. Exhibits and tours are planned. Please contact any member of the Board with your concerns and ideas. Finally, remember that anyone who joins The Society before the end of 2003 will be considered a charter member; sign up a friend or colleague.
Let me end by thanking the members and presenters for their generous and spirited efforts to make the inaugural meeting an ever-memorable day.
J. Michael Lennon, President