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Celebrating Norma Fox Mazer

When I think of Norma, I think of . . .

Her smile, always there or just waiting to shine.

Radiating beauty.

Her voice—powerful, sensitive—reading from a manuscript of The Missing Girl.

A great and true love story. Norma and her Harry, two typewriters, pulp fiction.

Her thoughtful, deep, kind eyes. Sparkling.

Everlasting youth. A teenage sensibility kept Norma ageless. The wisdom of years made her amazing.

This week at the Tollbooth, we celebrate the woman and her work: Norma Fox Mazer.

Please add your thoughts, memories, stories, and celebrations in the comments.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 19th, 2009 04:08 pm (UTC)
I'm not good at words...
Sometimes, there are no words to express the feeling of loss. I didn't know Norma well, but I had her for a workshop at VCFA when I was beginning to think I couldn't do the program because of my own deficiencies as a writer. Her critique of my pages was dead on--the pages weren't good, but she said her words with love and encouragement. I stayed in the program, and worked harder the next semester. Norma's kindness was a light for me. And there are no words for that. She was a natural teacher and a warm soul. I will miss knowing she's in the world. Helen
Oct. 19th, 2009 05:32 pm (UTC)
I worked with Norma my first semester at VC. we both lived in NYC at the time we sent emails and long letters to one another. I still have her comments on my work and on my essays in a box in my office. Norma encouraged me. She respected my mind. I was in awe. She was never one to throw praise around but when her laser eye and heart turned to your work you were always left empowered not disempowered.

After working with Norma, I ran into she and her husband Harry milling though the throngs of people in grand Central one night. I had just turned in my first packet to my new advisor and I missed Norma so much I ached. Upon seeing her I called her name and then threw my arms around her. I stood there thinking: I am hugging Norma. Is this okay? What was I thinking? Norma squeezed me back and invited me the next week to tea.

She was, is, and always will be among the best.

Oct. 19th, 2009 05:37 pm (UTC)
When I think of Norma, I think of....
Those braids - why do those braids come to mind? Maybe because the braids were both youthful AND complicated (the plaited design.....) No, that's too metaphorical, and Norma was very real. I can't quite figure it out. But I loved those braids.

And, as you said, Liz - we all think of her smile. There are so many Vermont College people (both colleagues and former students) hurting right now. Norma was well-loved.
Oct. 19th, 2009 06:26 pm (UTC)
Norma reading an excerpt from one of her already published novels, pencil in hand, scratching out words, changing punctuation, still editing her work.
Oct. 19th, 2009 07:35 pm (UTC)
Norma was a teacher when I as a student at VC, and I had her for workshop, and I got to know her a bit over the years. She had such a passion for writing. She was a gifted writer and teacher. She was blunt and honest and you could tell that she could not be anything but herself and be truthful. She was skilled at handling herself, sharing herself, and inspiring the best in others. And the thing about Norma that stands out for me the most is her youthful vitality. Norma was so alive. Such a spark. She was interested in everything and when I think of Norma, I see her with a huge smile on her face. Her books were fearless, honest, and unique, much like herself. She will be missed.
Oct. 19th, 2009 07:57 pm (UTC)
sad news
I'm sorry to hear the news! She was inspiring and sweet and no-nonsense. I went back to my final semester lecture of faculty gripes and thought I'd post hers:

"I grind my teeth over padded sentences, blown up and unnecessary language, redundant phrases and ideas, and oh, yes, the lack of knowledge about correct use of commas. I sometimes begin to feel like my tyrannical and unloved 9th grade teacher, Miss Foster, who beat grammar and sentence structure into our fuzzy little heads."

Here's to you, Norma, for your generosity in sharing your wisdom with would-be writers. ---Jennifer Gennari
Oct. 19th, 2009 10:01 pm (UTC)
The braids
I came across a wonderful picture of Norma on her website. The braids in full effect...

She also writes about the picture, when it was taken, and the genuine smile on her face.


Oct. 19th, 2009 11:09 pm (UTC)
she gave and she spoke, she wrote
She wrote stories that touched the heart and opened it.
I walked into Noble Hall, scared and certain that I didn't belong and there sat Norma on the steps, in overalls with black braids framing a face with a smile that said, "Yes."
Nancy Bo Flood
Oct. 19th, 2009 11:59 pm (UTC)
I'll always remember the moment sitting in Noble Hall at VC when it suddenly hit me that it was Norma who'd written one of my favorite books back in 6th grade: "I, Trissy." When I shared this with Norma, her face lit up, matching my excitement as she told me that it had been her first published book for kids. And in her typical generous way, she immediately became absorbed with thoughts of where the heck in her house she might have a copy for me. What I loved most about Norma, besides her incredible smile and smarts, was her courage to truly be herself. Whether dissecting popular new books or talking about her role as writer, wife, and parent, Norma delivered her words with a clear-eyed honesty that instantly connected her to her listeners. She had a great laugh, and I'll always think of her as the only 70something who could truly pull off braids and overalls. Norma, you were such an integral and wonderful part of Vermont College, and are dearly missed.

--Miriam Glassman
Oct. 24th, 2009 12:37 am (UTC)
Norma Fox Mazer
I recall her gentle but powerful voice at the Vermont program. My deepest, deepest condolences.

Patti Cone
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )