Joyce Carol Oates seems to forget that Norman Mailer stabbed his wife

Joyce Carol Oates Getty 1.jpg
Joyce Carol Oates Getty 1.jpg

Twitter allows us to talk to our heroes, but it also has a helpful annoying habit of allowing them to expose all of their ass. Social media has given many celebrities the opportunity to stick their feet so far into their mouths that they can wiggle their toes from the rectum. We expect certain people to be bad at Twitter, but who could have foreseen the award-winning author Joyce Carol Oates would be a repeat offender?

This moment requires a little background. Norman Mailer, the late author and essayist, has been in the public eye a lot this week. Journalist Michael Wolff claimed in an article for the newsletter The anchor that a planned collection of Mailer’s political writings to mark the centenary of his birth next year had been canceled by Random House. Wolff claims that this happened because of ‘a younger employee’s objection to the title of Mailer’s 1957 essay,’ The White Negro ‘. To believe this claim is to buy the fantasy that any junior employee would have the power to convince managers to do anything. Talk to everyone who works with publishers and they will tell you that it just does not happen. This collection of essays has already been acquired by Skyhorse, an independent press apparently dedicated to ‘saving the canceled’. They were the ones who picked up Woody Allen’s memoir after it was dropped by Hachette, and Blake Bailey’s biography of Philip Roth after it was dropped by WW Norton. Mailer’s own son told New York Times that Random House just hadn’t picked up the book, as many publishers often do, while a statement from the publishers themselves declared Wolff’s report to be ‘actually incorrect.’

So yes, a lot of fuss about nothing. A hacked ‘journalist’ breeds more ‘baw cancel culture’ propaganda by misunderstanding how publishing works, and now we have to come to terms with the usual malicious right-wing losers who pretend to like Norman Mailer. It’s a culture of cancellation that goes crazy talking about Mailer’s misogyny and often deeply messy statements and works, something that has been going on for literally decades. Few writers seemed to enjoy their own fame as much as Mailer.

In addition, he stabbed his wife.

In his defense of Mailer, Oates tried to defend him against allegations that he was a sexist and bad husband.

Did I mention that Mailer once stabbed one of his wives so severely that she almost died? Oates makes it seem as if he just had to get all the murderous rage out of his system before settling down with a neat and much younger doormat who knew her place.

In 1960, during a party to celebrate his mayoral candidacy in New York, Mailer stabbed his wife Adele Morales with a penknife in a drunken brawl. He punctured her pericardium and narrowly missed her heart. When a guest at the party went to check on the bleeding Morales, Mailer said, ‘Do not touch her. Let the bitch die. ‘ Morales survived the attack, but initially refused to charge Mailer as she wanted to protect her children. He was indicted by a grand jury on charges of aggravated assault, but after pleading guilty to a reduced charge, he received a suspended sentence and later a suspended sentence. To try to kill his wife. It took him forty years to admit a certain degree of remorse for the attack.

Attempted murder did little to harm Mailer’s career. He won his second Pulitzer Prize in 1979. His friends closed ranks around him and often expressed public support. He garnered great feminist support from the likes of Bella Abzug and Gloria Steinem during his second mayoral campaign. James Baldwin (!) Explained that Mailer, by attempting to kill his wife, was hoping to save the author himself from the spiritual prison he had created with his fantasies of becoming a politician (!!!) To hell, his cinemas are still trying to launder the incident:

If you want to support Mailer’s work, go for it. I doubt his most famous titles will ever go out of print. I understand why he was so loved as a writer and why his influence mattered. But dear sir, if you are so desperate to throw yourself in front of an imaginary bullet to a dead man, then perhaps try harder than ‘the guy who stabbed his second wife did not actively attack the sixth’.


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Kayleigh is a feature writer and editor for Pajiba. You can follow her further Twitter or listen to her podcast, The Hollywood Read.


Source image source: Michael Loccisano // Getty Images for Norman Mailer Center via Getty Images

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