April 27, 2011

Living with Norman


Norman Mailer's Poop Deck

You can, if you’ve got the scratch, and the desire, buy deceased author Norman Mailer‘s Brooklyn apartment. It’s on the market now for a cool $2.5 million. Mailer, who had nine children with his five wives. designed the space himself. The unusual, nautical-themed archeticture was designed by the author as a corrective. According to this article in the New York Times, the combative Mailer, who had little tolerance for fear, was afraid of heights:

So when he decided to remodel his top-floor walk-up apartment more than four decades ago, he set himself a challenge by designing a space that resembled a jungle gym at sea.

The roof was raised and modeled after a crow’s nest on a ship, with a series of slender ladders leading up two flights, with landings and small rooms, resembling tiny galleys, on each level.

In Mailer’s younger years, according to the Times, “there was a hammock strung up between the rafters, a trapeze swing dangling from the ceiling and a rope ladder, providing a more adventurous way to scale the apartment. ‘As a kid, it was amazing,’ Michael Mailer, 47, son of the author, told the Times.

The unusual thing about the sale is that it comes with Norman Mailer’s stuff – his jukebox; his African masks brought back from Zaire after covering George Foreman and Muhammad Ali‘s famous “Rumble in the Jungle” in 1974; a framed picture of his muse Marilyn Monroe. It all can be purchased as part of the sale.

“I’d take a lot of this stuff, but I just don’t have the space,” Matthew Mailer told the Brooklyn Paper in a report on the offering. His children are all taking what they want, and have space for, and the rest is up for sale.  They decided that the fairest way to deal with the assets is sell them and split the proceeds.

Matthew Mailer continued, “The library is something we are probably going to sell — this is something a lot of people are interested in,” although the family plans to keep all the signed first editions of his Mailer’s works.

Here’s a link to the Corcoran listing for more pics.


Valerie Merians is the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.