“Writing is spooky. There is no routine of an office to keep you going, only the blank page each
morning, and you never know where your words are coming from, those divine words.”
In The Spooky Art, Norman Mailer discusses with signature candor the rewards and trials of the writing life, and recommends the tools to navigate it. Addressing the reader in a conversational tone, he draws on the best of more than fifty years of his own criticism, advice, and detailed observations about the writer’s craft. Mailer explores, among other topics, the use of first person versus third person, the pressing need for discipline, the pitfalls of early success, and the dire matter of coping with bad reviews. While The Spooky Art offers a fascinating preview of what can lie in wait for the student and fledgling writer, the book also has a great deal to say to more advanced writers on the contrary demands of plot and character, the demon writer’s block, and the curious ins-and-outs of publishing. Throughout, Mailer ties in examples from his own career, and reflects on the works of his fellow writers, living and dead—Twain, Melville, Faulkner, Hemingway, Updike, Didion, Bellow, Styron, Beckett, and a host of others. In The Spooky Art , Mailer captures the unique untold suffering and exhilaration of the novelist’s daily life and, while plotting a clear path for other writers to follow, maintains reverence for the underlying mystery and power of the art.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of eBook: The Spooky Art|
|Release Date: 01-21-2003|
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|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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The Spooky Art
I am tempted to call this section Economics, for it concerns the loss
and gain (economically, psychically, physically) of living as a writer.
Let’s settle, however, for a term that may be closer to the everyday
reality: Lit Biz. Spend your working life as a writer and depend on
it–your income, your spirit, and your liver are all on close terms with
In 1963, Steve Marcus did an interview with me for The Paris Review, and
I have taken the liberty of separating his careful and elegantly
structured questions into several parts in order to give a quick shape
to my first years as a writer. For those who are more interested in what
I have to say about writing in general than about myself in particular,
you are invited to skip over these autobiographical details and move on
to a few comments on my first two books, The Naked and the Dead and
Barbary Shore. Or, if you are in search of directly useful nitty-gritty,
move even further, to “The Last Draft of The Deer Park.”
steven marcus: Do you need any particular environment in which to write?
norman mailer: I like a room with a view, preferably a long view. I like
looking at the sea, or ships, or anything which has a vista to it. Oddly
enough, I’ve never worked in the mountains.
sm: When did you first think of becoming a writer?
nm: That’s hard to answer. I did a lot of writing when I was young.
sm: How young?
sm: A real novel?
nm: Well, it was a science fiction novel about people on Earth taking a
rocket ship to M