Skip to navigation – Site map

HomeIssues20Ariel's CornerAmerican visual artsIf the Suit Fits – A Norman Maile...

Ariel's Corner
American visual arts

If the Suit Fits – A Norman Mailer anecdote

Rachel Brown

Full text

Norman Mailer and Molly Malone Cook, 1977 (photo by Rachel Giese Brown)

Norman Mailer and Molly Malone Cook, 1977 (photo by Rachel Giese Brown)

The two anecdotes recounted in this Miranda issue are childhood memories of photographer Rachel Brown who currently lives in Cape Cod (www.rachelbrownphoto.com).

1Norman Mailer’s new suit was hanging up in the Provincetown home of my employer, Molly Malone Cook and her partner, the poet Mary Oliver.

2Molly and Mary were at that time both working for Norman, Mary as typist and Molly, an ex-marine, as a firewall that callers, letter writers, autograph seekers, editors, ex-wives and Mailer offspring had to hurdle to get to the man himself.

3As we were friends, Molly sometimes hired me to help out from time to time to handle phone calls, do some extra typing, a dogsbody. As it happened, I was on hand when Norman got the call from Esquire Magazine.

4It was Spring of 1977. Jimmy Carter was the new President and Norman was assigned by Esquire Magazine to go to Georgia to interview Carter.

5Norman was highly interested in this assignment and bought a new suit well in advance for the occasion, a light beige linen sort of thing. For some reason it was kept at Molly and Mary’s home instead of Norman’s place at the East End.

6So the suit was on its hanger in full sight in Molly and Mary’s living-working-dining room, giving the space an air of a high priest’s vestry. It couldn’t have been in safer hands. After all, there were three of us looking after it.

7As the date of Norman’s trip to Georgia drew near, I noticed Molly’s increasing interest in the suit.

8One day she announced she was going to try on Norman’s new suit. As Molly and Norman were roughly the same shape and size we agreed it would probably work, although the consequences if anything bad should happen were monumental: spilled coffee, a torn seam, dog hairs. Molly was not to be stopped. Mary and I held our breaths as Molly donned the suit.

9She looked amazing in it. Perfect fit except a little long in the arms and legs.

10She strode around the room, stopping in front of a mirror, then a turn outside on the deck, leaning on the rail in a pose, gazing out into the woods surrounding their house as if there were a crowd in front of her, or a president.

11What could one say about this confluence of personalities and circumstances?

12I stupidly said, “Oh, Molly, you look just like Norman Mailer.”

13She regarded me archly and replied, “I don’t want to look like Norman Mailer. I want to be Norman Mailer.

  • 1 Published March 12, 2020 in Provincetown Independent

14And for a moment she was.1

Top of page

Notes

1 Published March 12, 2020 in Provincetown Independent

Top of page

List of illustrations

Caption Norman Mailer and Molly Malone Cook, 1977 (photo by Rachel Giese Brown)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/miranda/docannexe/image/26556/img-1.jpg
File image/jpeg, 92k
Caption Norman Mailer and Molly Malone Cook, 1977 (photo by Rachel Giese Brown)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/miranda/docannexe/image/26556/img-2.jpg
File image/jpeg, 70k
Top of page

References

Electronic reference

Rachel Brown, “If the Suit Fits – A Norman Mailer anecdote”Miranda [Online], 20 | 2020, Online since 20 April 2020, connection on 28 September 2021. URL: http://journals.openedition.org/miranda/26556; DOI: https://doi.org/10.4000/miranda.26556

Top of page

About the author

Rachel Brown

Photographer
website: www.rachelbrownphoto.com
brown.dejean@gmail.com

By this author

Top of page
  • Logo Université Toulouse II-Le Mirail
  • DOAJ - Directory of Open Access Journals
  • OpenEdition Journals
Search OpenEdition Search

You will be redirected to OpenEdition Search