He said it was the ONE thing he regretted. He sort of forgot that he lobbied to let a lunatic named Jack Abbott out of jail. Jack instantly murdered an innocent waiter during some kind of psychotic murderous rage in a restaurant. He was promptly shipped back to jail.
But back to Adele.
On the verge of announcing his improbable candidacy for mayor of New York, Mailer decided to celebrate with a party at their apartment on the Upper West Side on Nov. 19, 1960. The guest list was unusual. Since the author thought of his natural constituency as the disenfranchised, he invited several strangers off the street.
At the same time, he instructed his friend George Plimpton to summon the city’s power elite, handing him a list that included the police and fire commissioners, the banker David Rockefeller and the Aga Khan. None of them came, but the party could still be described as glittering, with attendees that included Allen Ginsberg and the editor Norman Podhoretz. They got into a fight and had to be separated. Drunk and belligerent, Mailer, wearing a ruffled matador shirt, repeatedly tangled with his guests. Around 4 a.m., he confronted his wife in an incoherent rage.
In her memoir, Mrs. Mailer recalled having taunted her husband, bluntly deriding his manhood, and making an ugly reference to his mistress. Some guests recalled that the point of no return came when she told her husband that he was not as good as Dostoyevsky.
Mailer stabbed her in the stomach and back with a penknife.
Mailer was charged with felonious assault and committed to Bellevue Hospital for psychiatric observation.
“In my opinion Norman Mailer is having an acute paranoid breakdown with delusional thinking and is both homicidal and suicidal,” Dr. Conrad Rosenberg, the doctor who first treated Mrs. Mailer, wrote in a medical report to the judge.
In court, Norman Mailer argued, “Naturally I have been a little upset, but I have never been out of my mental faculties. “It is important for me not to be sent to a mental hospital, because my work in the future will be considered that of a disordered mind,” he added. “My pride is that I can explore areas of experience that other men are afraid of. I insist I am sane.”
The judge disagreed. Mailer was released from Bellevue after 17 days and in November 1961, after pleading guilty to a reduced charge of third-degree assault, received a suspended sentence. The couple divorced the next year. Speaking to The New York Times Magazine in 1979, Mailer said, “A decade’s anger made me do it. After that, I felt better.” In a documentary shown on PBS in 2000 as part of the series “American Masters,” he took a more remorseful tone. “It changed everything in my life,” he said. “It is the one act I can look back on and regret for the rest of my life.”
Adele Carolyn Morales was born on June 12, 1925, in Brooklyn.After graduating from Washington Irving High School in Manhattan, Ms. Morales moved to a cold-water flat in Manhattan and earned a living making papier-mâché models for department store windows. She studied literature at the New School for Social Research and threw herself into downtown cultural life, having a romance with Jack Kerouac. Later she met Mailer: "He quoted a beautiful line from Scott Fitzgerald — I wish I could remember it exactly — something about adventure and getting up and going out into the night, and that did it.”
After the divorce, Mrs. Mailer, who had studied at the Actors Studio, appeared in several Off Broadway productions, including Mailer’s theatrical adaptation of his novel “The Deer Park” in 1967 and his 1970 film “Maidstone.” After their two daughters went to college, payments from her ex-husband were reduced sharply, and she lived precariously in a rent-stabilized one-bedroom apartment on the Upper East Side. Norman Mailer died in 2007.
On a walk around her neighborhood in 2007 Mrs. Mailer said, “This is Norman Mailer’s wife. It’s riches to rags, honey.”
Since she survived the penknife attack, enjoyed her fame, and got not only money but occasional acting jobs through Norman, then it all worked out ok. Sort of. I must add that I always felt Mailer was a sympathetic figure...a true bull in a china shop. As Dick Cavett among others would attest, Mailer often made a fool of himself at the same time he was trying to make a valid point, or resurrect the Hemingway-esque persona of the writer. I met him once at his brownstone in Brooklyn, very briefly. It was, nevertheless, an astonishing moment, seeing a true icon of writing. I saw him from the top of the stairs and that made meeting him seem even more like a pilgrimage.
Another time I saw him laboring through Barnes & Noble, on double crutches, to give a lecture on "the spooky art," as he called creative writing.
Once I sent him a press photo of himself with Capote and someone else at a party, adding some kind of note about his inspiration. In return, he most unexpectedly sent me an 8x11 self-portrait he had drawn. And a fearsome self-appraisal it was.
So goodbye Adele, blood-colorful footnote that you are. That incident helped make Norman Mailer one of the most notorious writers of the age. Too bad there are almost none left. Who is there? Jolly fat George R.R. Martin? If you're talking about literary geniuis, "writer as celebrity" or "author as STAR," the last of the line, following his exact opposites, Truman Capote and Gore Vidal, was Norman Mailer.