The pair even shared a beachfront house in Provincetown, MA. Mailer had written to the local paper ""P.D. Manso is looking for gold in the desert of his arid inner life, where lies and distortions are the only cactus juice to keep him going." Ouch. But what puzzles me is that Peter Manso has seemingly nurtured the hurt for over thirty years and now takes a few too many pages to give his account, share gossip, insult Mailer friends. The aggrieved author seems less a wounded innocent than a gold digger irritated that this vein will yield no more.
The lesson, I suppose, is that one ought not live with their heroes.I'd agree that Manso's Mailer biography is a fascinating read as far as it goes; it's hard to go astray when you've got a group of interesting people giving an intimate account of a singularly intriguing and often brilliant personality like Mailer. But based on this, Manso's introduction to the new edition just sounds like 44 pages of sour grape he wants everyone to take a sip from. The problem with having heroes who embody every virtue and ambition one wants to cultivate for their own is that heroes will betray you, intentionally or otherwise.
I've no idea what went on between the two men while they occupied that beachfront property, but it's very possible Mailer had other things he wanted to do besides listening to the sound and sight of a dedicated fanboy sucking up; perhaps Manso crossed over from being a mere acolyte and exhibited a malignant sycophancy. Or maybe not; Manso would have served himself better getting over a three-decade-old slight and finessed his remarks a tad more. It was Mailer's particular genius to make himself, as subject, fascinating in ways a reader wouldn't have suspected. That same talent isn't Manso's. Would that he merely republished his worthy oral history and gone onto another book.