By Patricia Cohen writing in The New York Times, Published: October 21, 2009
The Norman Mailer who was honored Tuesday night by the glittery literati at a gala benefit was generous, nurturing and diligent, a big cuddly teddy bear with rumpled white hair and a rocking chair that faced the bay. Only occasionally did the more familiar Mailer appear, the wild, fierce, and contentious celebrity who probably deserved more punches in the smacker than he delivered in his lifetime.
Photo left by Chad Batka for The New York Times shows
Toni Morrison, who received a lifetime achievement award, and Calvin Trillin at the dinner.
One of the worst things you could do to a writer like Mailer is “to domesticate him into a tabby cat,” Mr. Remnick said. Then he shrugged. “It’s an award dinner.”
And indeed it was. The cause was the newly created Norman Mailer Writers Colony, the brainchild of Lawrence Schiller, Mailer’s longtime friend and collaborator, who created this nonprofit organization and these awards both to honor Mailer and to support both new and established writers. With the help of Mailer’s widow, Norris Church Mailer, the couple’s house in Provincetown, Mass., has been turned into a residential educational center. Mr. Schiller said the event brought in about $200,000. (The publisher and investor Spas Roussev, who is on the colony’s executive board, underwrote the dinner.)