Norris Church Mailer, a native Arkansan who was married to Norman Mailer for the last 30 years of his life, will be on the University of Arkansas at Little Rock campus April 13 as a stop on her upcoming tour with the release of her latest book, “A Ticket to the Circus.”
Mailer’s 6 p.m. lecture in the Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall is open to the public. A book signing and reception will follow next door in Gallery I. Earlier in the day, she will have a book discussion with UALR writing students and faculty at 2 p.m. Her lectures are sponsored by the UALR Departments of English and Rhetoric and Writing. For more information, call 569-3296.
Born Barbara Davis in the small town of Atkins, Ark., she dated a little-known, aspiring politician named Bill Clinton in the 1970s. She met Norman in 1975 at a party when he was in Russellville visiting an old Army friend. Barbara was a 26-year-old recently divorced high school art teacher; Norman was a 52-year-old Pulitzer Prize-winning author who was separated from his fifth wife.
Davis followed him to New York where she became a model, actress, painter, and writer. After marrying Mailer, she faced down ex-wives and lovers by the dozen, according to her publicist at Random House who offered these details about her latest book:
“From age three when she was crowned Little Miss Little Rock, Norris Church Mailer has gone from one wild adventure to the next, and sheshares it all in her frank, beautifully written, deeply personal memoir “A Ticket to the Circus” (Random House; On sale April 6, 2010). Reading her stories is like sitting down to laugh and cry with an old friend: Norris holds nothing back, from showing up to dinner with Oscar de la Renta wearing only a nightgown, to serving coleslaw to Bob Dylan; from the heartbreak of first discovering her husband’s affairs, to saying goodbye to Norman on his deathbed.
“In a winning narrative voice that evokes her native Arkansas, Norris recounts her life as a bright, talented girl who knew her life would one day be as surprising and memorable as a day at the circus. With clear eyes and startling frankness, she depicts the full evolution of her marriage to Norman Mailer, from the white-hot beginning through the very rocky patches to the mournful ending, offering an incredibly intimate perspective on this legendary man of letters. ‘A Ticket to the Circus’ is an intelligent, bittersweet memoir that will enchant readers with its charm and insight into how we grow up and how we love.”
Author Joyce Carol Oates comments: “‘A Ticket to the Circus’ is a remarkable memoir—blunt, funny, extraordinarily candid and self-aware; deeply moving, as it is wonderfully entertaining; above all, a memorable double portrait of two very unusual people, a couple for whom the term meant for each other is wholly appropriate.”
Norris Church Mailer is the author of two previous books, “Windchill Summer” and “Cheap Diamonds.” Now living in Brooklyn, she is the mother of two sons, two stepsons, and five stepdaughters, as well as a grandmother to two and step-grandmother to nine. She has lived with cancer since 1999.