Joyce Carol Oates Goes to the Rack for Norman Mailer

She knows he stabbed his wife but loves him anyway

Since I don’t want to learn what Wordle is, I am here to talk about Norman Mailer. No not that news, the other news—where Book & Film Globe veteran Joyce Carol Oates confusingly tweets out a defense of the man who stabbed his second wife as surely not a “bad husband.” (In 1960, Mailer stabbed his second wife, Adele Morales, after a party and while very drunk. He punctured her cardiac sac, and Morales almost died. He reportedly told shocked party guests, “Don’t touch her. Let the bitch die.” Great dude.)

Our fearless leader Neal Pollack chronicled the Mailer drama last week, including Oates’ vehement defense of the author “The White Negro.” Since then, she has continued to tweet daily about Mailer, including comparing him to Senator Ted Kennedy. I do not have the words here to rebut Oates point-by-point—it is challenging enough to pull out her Mailer opinions from among the near-constant tweets about favorite paintings, cats, Sidney Poitier, and more cats (which, honestly, Joyce, same). 

But she caught the literary world’s attention on January 5 by tweeting, “‘bad husband’ to whom? like many oft-married men Norman Mailer wound up finally with a much younger, adoring, & altogether quite wonderful wife (Norris Church) whom everyone liked. womanizers all eventually wear out, it just takes time & if you’re lucky, you are the last wife.”

Oates continues to double-down on this opinion:

The audacity of “back to this subject?” is really inspiring. Say what you will about Mailer and cancellation in general, but relentlessly defending him as a good husband is truly a chaotic take. And I, um, cannot find anyone who agrees with her. I know this is technically news, and news writing requires balance, but I cannot report what does not exist!

Instead, here are a couple of my favorite responses to Joyce Carol Oates:


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Katie Smith

Katie Smith is a Philadelphia-based writer. Find her on Instagram @saddy_yankee for cat pics.

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