|Norman Mailer (right) and his personal assistant Dwayne Raymond, author of “Mornings with Mailer.’’ (Christina Pabst)|
Tender look at Mailer
Around Provincetown, Norman Mailer was known as a regular guy. He chatted with locals as he ran errands.
Dwayne Raymond waited on Mailer’s table one night, and subsequently they would bump into each other from time to time. Whenever they did, Mailer always wanted to know what Raymond, a struggling writer, was up to. Three years later, in 2003, Mailer invited Raymond to be his personal assistant.
Raymond quickly figured out how to handle Mailer’s idiosyncrasies, cooking his meals, running interference with technology for him, typing his handwritten pages, and making editorial suggestions (some of which Mailer accepted).
For four years, Mailer was in the thick of working on “The Castle in the Forest,” his epic novel about Hitler. Mailer in research mode wanted books by the dozens delivered to the house. Raymond preferred online research. Sometimes he tried to cover his tracks, lest Mailer unleash a rant about the evils of technology.
“Mornings with Mailer” (Harper), published Tuesday, is Raymond’s tender memoir and an illuminating look at the mind and methods of a Pulitzer Prize winner who kept writing up until he died in 2007 at the age of 84.
Risa Miller, a graduate of Emerson’s MFA program, has published her second novel, “My Before and After Life’’ (St. Martin’s). The widowed father of two grown sisters living in Brookline decides during a trip to Jerusalem to become an Orthodox Jew. Certain they can change their father’s mind, the sisters launch a rescue mission. Miller, who has lived in Brookline and Jerusalem, navigates the complicated relationship between adult children and parents with sensitivity and humor.
Steve Yarbrough will read from his new novel, “Safe from the Neighbors’’ (Knopf) at 2 p.m. today at Newtonville Books before heading to the South on an author tour. A native of Mississippi, Yarbrough has set his novel against the backdrop of a seminal event in his own life: the day in September 1962 that James Meredith arrived to integrate the all-white campus of Ole Miss.
■ “Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?” by Seth Godin (Portfolio)
■ “The New Frugality: How to Consume Less, Save More, and Live Better” by Chris Farrell (Bloomsbury)
Jan Gardner can be reached at JanLGardner@yahoo.com.