So, Norris Mailer has gone. She died of gastrointestinal cancer at the age of 61 last month in the Brooklyn Heights apartment she once shared with her husband Norman. She had been battling with the disease for over a decade, and she fought it with much grace.
I only met her twice. Once, just a month before she died, and once, 15 months ago, when she made me lunch in her New York apartment.
The two-storey flat was extraordinary, sitting bang on the river, with a view of both the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty, the sort of view no decent person would ever tire of looking at.
The lunch was pretty good, too, a smorgasbord of a salad, with hot breads, the promise of wine, and homemade cookies and gallons of coffee. As she laid the table, and put out the bowls and plates – "I don't need any help, just look around" – I peered along the bookshelves, poked my nose in the upstairs study, and gawped at the dozens and dozens of photographs of Norman and Norris and the great and the good.
Norris was a beautiful woman, right to the end. I briefly saw her at a gala dinner in New York in October, and she flitted between the tables as though she didn't have a worry in the world. She knew she was dying, but you wouldn't have known.
Her agent, John Taylor Williams, recalls bumping into Norris for the first time while he was doing some legal work for Norman. He walked into a room where "this unbelievable looking woman" was standing. He asked Mailer who she was, and Mailer replied, "I think we're going to get married".
"Lucky you," said Williams.
Norris was a keen author, and earlier this year published her autobiography, A Ticket to the Circus. In it, she claims she had a fling with the then-unmarried Bill Clinton.
A friend who was in politics told her, when Clinton was President, "I guess he slept with every woman in Arkansas, except you".
"Sorry," she replied. "I'm afraid he got us all."
Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'Reuse content