Heritage

Mornings with Mailer

A RECOLLECTION OF FRIENDSHIP by DWAYNE RAYMOND
Published to Coincide with What Would Have Been Norman Mailer’s 87th Birthday — An Intimate Portrait of the Great Writer’s Final Years
In Mornings with Mailer: A Recollection of Friendship (Harper Perennial; Trade Paperback Original; On Sale: January 26, 2010; $13.99), writer Dwayne Raymond reflects upon the intimate bond he forged with Norman Mailer during the last four years of the iconic writer’s life. Coming on board in 2003 to work as Mailer’s editorial aide, Raymond would become much more—cook, sounding board, confidante, and most importantly, friend to the still indomitable octogenarian. As he worked alongside the two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, helping him with the research and preparation of his final four books, the younger writer grew to know a man whose benevolent private persona often ran counter to his intractable public image.
Living in Provincetown, the famously eccentric community on the remote tip of Cape Cod, Dwayne Raymond often encountered the town’s most illustrious resident in its shops and bars. Raymond’s first personal contact with Mailer, however, was in 2000, when he served the writer and his wife Norris at the small restaurant where he worked as a waiter. Mailer took an immediate interest in the younger writer and over the ensuing years, whenever they would bump into each other, Mailer would ask Raymond how his work was progressing. One fateful night in 2003, Raymond chanced upon Mailer at the local market. Mailer said he was immersed in a project and could use Raymond’s help. The next day, he asked Raymond to be his assistant.
The project Mailer wanted help on was his novel about Hitler that would become The Castle in the Forest. Yet soon after he began showing up at the Mailers’ home every day, it became apparent that the bounds of the job would be fluid. Raymond helped Mailer organize his massive amounts of research, but he also undertook many of the daily tasks. Norris Mailer, with whom Raymond formed a strong alliance, was herself recovering from a protracted illness, so the “editorial aide” routinely lent a hand with household duties, especially cooking, at which he was adept. Norman, an avowed food aficionado, would concoct odd recipe ideas that Raymond gamely executed.
Over the course of the next four years, Raymond became an indispensable and wholly trusted member of Mailer’s small inner circle. He witnessed firsthand Mailer’s legendary work ethic, as the aging writer, despite a litany of ailments, nonetheless managed to turn out four books—Modest Gifts, The Big Empty, The Castle in the Forest, and On God: An Uncommon Conversation. As the friendship between the two men deepened, Raymond recognized that the real Norman Mailer was nothing like the combative, misogynistic, homophobic, unforgiving man that the media had portrayed for over half a century, but in fact a forthright and devoted family man who cherished his work and his private relationships above all else. Raymond, a gay man, was surprised by Mailer’s insight and compassion when offering advice, as the younger man struggled with a uniquely complex personal relationship with his partner. As Mailer’s condition deteriorated, Raymond grew increasingly protective of his mentor, battling his own sorrow with the need to preserve the great writer’s dignity and independence.
Mornings with Mailer is a heartfelt memoir of the special relationship between a literary master and a willing pupil. Offering a personal look into the final years of an often misunderstood icon, it is a moving tribute to America’s foremost man of letters.
About the Author
Dwayne Raymond worked with Norman Mailer from April 2003 until Mailer’s death in November 2007. He provided editorial assistance on Mailer’s final four books: Modest Gifts, The Big Empty, The Castle in the Forest, and On God: An Uncommon Conversation. Raymond contributes regularly to the Huffington Post and has written for The New York Times Brief Guide to Essential Knowledge, The Mirror, In Newsweekly, and The Boston Reader. He was a writer and producer for the NBC daytime news magazine show Real Life and served as associate producer for MTV’s Real World: Boston. He lives in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
Mornings with Mailer: A Recollection of Friendship
By Dwayne Raymond
Harper Perennial; Trade Paperback Original
On Sale: January 26, 2009
352 Pages / $13.99