Adam Ash

Your daily entertainment scout. Whatever is happening out there, you'll find the best writing about it in here.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Bookplanet: Mailer's papers weigh 20,000 pounds

I have a small storage space full of canvases, papers, and recorded songs on those old two-inch thick reels. Digitized, they'd fit on a couple of CDs. In the future, writers won't leave papers for scholars to pore over, they'll leave CDs to click around in. And then there's Norman Mailer, whose Mom stored his stuff:
"For more than five decades, Norman Mailer has been analyzing, prodding and assaulting American culture, not only in his many books, articles and screenplays but also in about 25,000 letters, all saved as carbon copies and on computer disks. And beginning in Mr. Mailer's earliest years as a writer, his mother, Fannie, relentlessly squirreled away his notebooks, family photographs, canceled checks, sales receipts and even his dogs' identification tags. 'She was formidable when it came to compiling scrapbooks,' Mr. Mailer's authorized biographer, Dr. Robert Lucid, said in a phone interview. 'Her view was anything that emanated from Norman had value.'
Always trust a mother's instincts: on Thursday, Mr. Mailer will be in Austin, Tex., to announce the sale of his archives to the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas for $2.5 million. Stored in nearly 500 boxes weighing more than 20,000 pounds, the trove includes all manner of Mailerabilia dating back to his childhood and especially his early years at Harvard (class of '43), where he majored in aeronautical engineering and wrote an unpublished novel, "No Percentage.""
500 boxes, 20,000 pounds!? How much does your life weigh?


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