Joyce Carol Oates has once again set social media on fire, this time with a tweet pressing Norman Mailer.
Oates, the prolific novelist with a penchant for rocking Twitter with bizarre and often incendiary posts, tweeted her take on the late Mailer, who made headlines this week after Penguin Random House reportedly cancelled a planned anthology of his political writing.
Oates responded to a Twitter user who wrote: “He was a good writer, but a bad husband. Or should have read that: He was a bad husband, but he wrote well.”
“‘bad husband’ for whom?,” Oates tweeted† “Like many frequently married men, Norman Mailer eventually ended up with a much younger, adoring, [and] all in all a very wonderful woman (Norris Church) who everyone liked. womanizers all wear out eventually, it just takes time [and] if you are lucky you will be the last woman.”
“bad husband” to whom? like many frequently married men, Norman Mailer eventually ended up with a much younger, loving, all in all, very wonderful woman (Norris Church) whom everyone liked. womanizers all wear out eventually, it just takes time if you’re lucky, you’re the last woman.
— Joyce Carol Oates (@JoyceCarolOates) January 6, 2022
Mailer was widely regarded as a “bad husband” to artist Adele Morales, whom he stabbed and nearly killed in 1960. Many Twitter users pointed this out, including editor Sophy Ziss, who replied“He didn’t stab every woman” isn’t the argument you seem to think it is.”
And author Marlowe Granados tweeted“Obsessed with the story of ‘if you can avoid getting stabbed, you’ve really won…and the prize is his heart.'”
Oates did not immediately respond to her detractors, but later retweeted a photo from the Twitter account Bodega Cats, featuring an image of a white cat jumping from a stack of litter bags onto a box of chocolate chip cookies. The cat’s opinion of Mailer’s marriage history is unknown at this time.
Michael Schaub is a Texas-based journalist and a regular contributor to NPR.