Provincetown Public Library August 22, 2017
Susan Mailer is the senior sibling in the Mailer clan, the eldest of Norman’s nine children. Until recently, she was the only Mailer sibling who did not till the fields of artistic endeavor. Mailer’s other children, most of whom are with us tonight, are writers, actors, producers, performers, playwrights, etc., etc., with many varied and notable accomplishments. Susan, however, has been a psychotherapist for decades, as well as a professional teacher-academic in her field.
About three years ago, she began writing the memoir you will hear her read from tonight—her first reading from a work she has titled In Another Place. It is an apt title because it captures the bifurcated life she has led. Her parents divorced when she was two and a half, and for the next decade she moved between their widely separated homes, between Mexico City—where her mother Beatrice Silverman, also a psychotherapist, lived; and New York City and Provincetown, between which her father divided his time. The memoir skillfully follows Susan’s divided life as she moves between her mother’s home in the south, Mexico, and later, her married life in Chile (where she currently lives with her husband Marco Colodro), and the north, Manhattan, Brooklyn and her father’s other residences, Provincetown being the most important. So her memoir is peripatetic; it lingers and then shuttles to the other place, and the events and characters of one are seared into her memory as she moves to the other much the way striking after-images from a film or photograph persist and continue in mind’s eye. I should add that she and Marco also have a home in New York City; the north-south demarcation continues.
Her memoir is also a gallery of discerning and fascinating portraits of her shape-shifting parents, her eight siblings and other family members, including her Aunt Barbara, her cousin Peter, who are also with us, and Norman’s six wives. But In Another Place is fundamentally Susan’s self-portrait, a subtly revealing depiction of the overlapping identities of daughter, sibling, wife, mother (grandmother too), psychotherapist and now, memoirist, that she has forged in the smithy of her soul out of her inheritance, her unique experience and her writerly skill and courage. Please welcome Susan Mailer.