Twenty years ago, when I was living in midcoast Maine and trying to be a writer, I would lay a story on you at the drop of a hat. If you came into the bar where I moonlighted, you were likely to get two thousand words with your drink. My regulars accepted this burden with good humor. I remember Johnnie Rankin, asking for a martini and a story, then frowning at his watch and saying, “On second thought, make it a beer and a vignette.”
My other job was at the Owls Head Airport. There I could be just as pesky, but more discriminating. Interesting folks took our shuttle up from Boston, and I had buttonholed James Baldwin, Nicholas von Hoffman, and Martin Dibner, among others, but to no avail. And then one evening I noticed Norman Mailer’s name on the next day’s manifest. He wouldn’t be getting off in Owls Head but continuing on to Bar Harbor, which would make getting to him tricky. I mulled over the logistics as I shut down the computer and turned out the lights. Outside it was cool, late August, the stars bright in the dark sky. I could hear a whip-poor-will in the trees off the end of the runway. And Norman Mailer was coming to town.