Friday , September 25 2020
A young writer who found Normal Mailer’s work difficult to read, ends up leading Mailer through the author’s last years.

Book Review: Mornings With Mailer: A Recollection of Friendship by Dwayne Raymond

When Dwayne Raymond worked as a young waiter in Provincetown, Massachusetts, he was invited to join Norman Mailer in a project. Mailer was 79 at the time, and had an overly-ambitious plan for a project estimated to take eleven years.

As the project is revealed to us, we’re also treated to a look at the variety of moods that accompanied Mailer through the day. He moves from brilliant to gruff and frustrated, hungry for a good sandwich, and stimulated by conversation. As Mailer and his wife Norris grow comfortable with this “Man Friday” in their home, Raymond begins cooking for them, and helping with other activities for the older couple. His work in Mailer’s office and his help with writing tasks develops into a wonderful bond between the two men; each a gift to the other.

Mailer’s wife enjoyed Raymond’s company, too, as he writes of their time together: “Our morning meetings became a two-way therapy session that both of us came to count on through the years.”

Mornings With Mailer
becomes an honest memoir of Raymond’s days with the aging couple. His assistance in keeping Mailer organized and anticipating his every need results in four books they produced together, including Mailer’s latest novel The Castle in the Forest.

Raymond was privileged to learn from the master who taught him how to improve his writing: ”Well, learn your rhythm. Organize the loud and the quiet. The sounds are the muscle.”

Mailer’s prolific writing career carried plenty of muscle, and Mornings With Mailer is a fine tribute to the man and his work.

About Helen Gallagher

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