Destination: Rhode Island

Writer’s Block at Norman Mailer’s House

The Smart Set has a dispatch from Provincetown, where freelancer Amy Rowland spent a month as a fellow at Norman Mailer’s house-turned-writers’ retreat—and found herself unable to write. Here’s Rowland:

We were encouraged to write in Mailer’s house, but I found I couldn’t. Sitting in the living room, where Mailer kept dinner companions waiting while he finished writing in the attic, was like trying to write in a shrine. There were photos on the wall: Mailer with Vidal, Mailer with Plimpton, Mailer with Castro, Mailer with Vonnegut, Mailer with Jackie Kennedy.

Once, I wandered out to the porch and plopped down in a white rocking chair with faded pink cushions.

“That was Mailer’s chair,” someone said. “That’s where he sat to watch the water.”

I jumped up from the chair and went back to the wall of photos.

Rhode Island Contemplates a Name Change

Little-known fact: Rhode Island’s full, official name is “State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.” And, thanks to the slavery connotations of that latter section, the state is taking steps towards a potential name change—to, you guessed it, plain old “Rhode Island.”

All things considered, if the change goes through I’m guessing the world will find it easier to adapt to than, say, the Bombay-Mumbai shift.

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