Conference 2008 Wrap-Up

First, I must thank all those who worked to make the 2008 conference one of our best.  Program Chair Phil Sipiora and co-chair Deb Martinson put together a marvelous program.  It was highlighted by a full day of tributes to Norman Mailer at the Provincetown Theater, the spirited Begiebing-Bufithis dialogue, and the films assembled by Michael Chaiken.  Chris Busa reprised his literary walking tour and it was universally praised.  The Wilkes drama team, under the direction of Ken Vose and Jim Warner, gave another sterling performance.  The papers and panels all went off well and attendance at them was good.  Finally, Christopher Ricks was spell-binding as our keynote speaker, as all agree.

Behind the scenes, Barry Leeds, Marc Triplett, Phil Bufithis and other Board members put in a lot of time and effort on their committee assignments.  Dave Light, of course, was the maestro of the event and had a main hand or finger on every aspect of the conference.  Donna Lennon and Susan Light did the catering at the Mailer House, stepping in to save the Society considerable expense.  Norris Church Mailer was unable to join us in Provincetown, but we thank her for again opening her home to the Society for the Saturday night reception, which was hosted by Board members Barbara Wasserman and John Buffalo Mailer.  Norris is busy writing a memoir and sends her best wishes to everyone in the Society.  Thanks to all those named and unnamed who put a shoulder to the wheel and made this a memorable conference.
The Board met on Sunday after the conference and made several decisions: 1) to forge ahead with the 2009 conference in Washington, D.C.; 2) to explore the possibility of having the 2010 conference at the University of Texas-Austin, where the Mailer Papers are housed; 3) to attend a Board retreat sometime in spring 2009 at a hotel near the Baltimore-Washington  International Airport; 4) to invite Camille Paglia to be our 2009 keynote speaker; and 5) to explore the possibility of a joint conference with the James Jones Literary Society in a few years, 2011 at the earliest.
We elected five new members to the Board at the business meeting—Laura Adams Dunham, Michael Chaiken, Denise Pappas, Allen Ahearn and Constance Holmes—and accepted the resignation of two, Tara Sikora and Ivan Fisher, with gratitude for their services.  The minutes of the business meeting with additional detail will soon be posted on the website by Secretary Marc Triplett.  Speaking of the website, please check it out. The impressive new design and rich array of new materials is the work of Board member Jerry Lucas (glucas [at] mailerreview [dot] org).   He asks that Society members send him new material on NM, and comment on the items posted—they are quite varied and interesting.  Please take a look at his work.  Your involvement is fervently desired.
Another highlight of the conference was the awarding of the Robert F. Lucid Award to Phil Sipiora for the magnificent first issue of The Mailer Review.  He accepted it with gratitude on behalf of his editorial staff.  The second issue, the memorial issue, was in everyone’s hands before the conference and it was just as impressive—and nearly twice as big—as the first issue.  Kudos to Phil and his staff.  The next issue will focus on NM’s Oswald’s Tale (including an interview with NM’s collaborator on this book, Board member Larry Schiller), and NM’s films.  Phil is enthusiastic about this issue, and the fourth one, which will focus on Mailer and Hemingway.   You can now purchase copies of The Mailer Review at Amazon and information is also available on the Society website.  A few bound copies are still available for sale.  Contact Phil Sipiora (psipiora [at] gmail [dot] com) with questions.
Bob Begiebing (chair), Allen Ahearn, Mark Olshaker and Dave Light deserve our thanks for their advance planning and research in preparation for the 2009 Conference in Washington, D.C., October 23 and 24. We are also very grateful to Congressman Neil Abercrombie for gaining us access (gratis) to the Members Room of the Library of Congress for the first day of the 2009 conference.  Information on the conference, including hotel accommodations, is available on the Society website.  Deborah Martinson (dmartin [at] oxy [dot] edu) is the program chair, and Mark Olshaker (mindhunt [at] verizon [dot] net) is the co-chair, for the 2009 conference.  Please contact them with ideas and questions about next year’s program.  The conference theme is “Washington Intersections: Ideology, Culture, and Biography.”
Finally, I would like to ask that all members give consideration to the request for support of The Mailer Writers Colony, which is precisely the sort of enterprise that Norman endorsed in his later years.  The Colony will be launched in Provincetown next spring with a series of writing courses taught by individuals who were associated with Mr. Mailer. Larry Schiller, who worked with Norman for over three decades on a variety of films and books, including The Executioner’s Song, is the point man on this ambitious project, and has done the majority of the conceptual and organizational work underpinning it. A beautiful packet of materials describing the programs that The Colony will offer was sent to Society members about ten days ago.  Information about these programs, and how to make a gift, can be found at their web site or, call 1-800-835-7853.  I know our eponym would be pleased with the principles upon which The Colony will operate and ask that you make a tax-deductible contribution, if possible.  If you did not receive a packet, you can obtain one by calling the number given above.
Happy Holidays to all Mailerians.
J. Michael Lenon