Pop Culture
Jun 13, 2024, 06:28AM

Which Is How It Always Is

A 2020 N+1 interview with author Elizabeth Wurtzel vs. a 1999 Provincetown Arts interview with novelist Norman Mailer. 

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Norman Mailer: You’ll see donkeys screwing each other, men fighting, a horse nosing out a soldier’s food he shouldn’t be eating in an encampment.

Elizabeth Wurtzel: You have to constantly say, “This isn’t happening to me.”

Mailer: Also, the whole idea was not to be excited.

Wurtzel: Everyone should be. Which is how it always is.

Mailer: The thick canvas mainsail lopes over.


Wurtzel: I’m wondering about the demise of civilization as a result of that, even though I think it should be legalized because of course it should be.

Mailer: But there were all these well-known painters, and that gave a certain tone to the town, plus an interesting tension.

Wurtzel: That’s what all these people think.


Mailer: Your brain is faster when you smoke cigarettes, which is why working intellectuals, particularly, do hate giving up their addiction.

Wurtzel: It’s a sign that you didn’t understand what you were getting yourself into. I had fifteen cigarettes left in my pack and I didn’t finish them.


Mailer: Everything I detest has gotten stronger in the last 30 or 40 years: plastic, airplane interiors, modern architecture, and suburban sprawl.

Wurtzel: I think it’s terrifying. I don’t think it’s supposed to be that way, though.

Mailer: I think there just wasn’t money for a babysitter. Or, the best friend, the babysitter, was going to the party also.

Wurtzel: Right. And no one complains about Norman Mailer being difficult.

Mailer: If you keep telling me how good I am, frankly, I get bored.


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