As Norman Mailer’s first born, Susan Mailer was a witness to her father’s growing fame, to the changes in his personality during the tumultuous 1960s, and to the arrival of her eight siblings from his five subsequent wives.
After her parents’ divorce in 1952, her mother moved from New York to Mexico, and Susan shuttled between the two countries, becoming bicultural and bilingual from an early age. She graduated from Barnard in 1971, and in her late twenties, married a Chilean economist who was exiled in Mexico. They moved to Chile in 1980 during Pinochet’s dictatorship, where Susan later became a psychoanalyst, a teacher, a mother, and grandmother. Her memoir moves with energy and flair as she describes both the pain and joy of shifting from one culture to another, culminating in her emergence from the shadow of her father’s rock star persona as she came into her own.
Susan Mailer and Norman Mailer’s authorized biographer, J. Michael Lennon, will explore her story, but also that of the five years she spent writing her memoir. They will discuss how her psychoanalytic training aided her comprehension of her father’s complex personality, and how delving into her past turned out to be a second analysis for her. They will examine the similarities and differences between the act of writing and practicing analysis. And also, how becoming a writer has helped her maintain a continuing dialogue with her father, after his death in 2007.
Purchase In Another Place: With and Without My Father, Norman Mailer.