“His consolation in those hours when he was most uncharitable to himself is that taken at his very worst he was at least still worthy of being a character in a novel by Balzac, win one day, lose the next, and do it with boom! and baroque in the style.”
—Mailer, speaking of his favorite subject, himself, in The Armies of the Night
Say anything and everything about him–and somebody will in the next couple of days–he was never dull, never a reseller of the obvious shopworn wisdom. Even as some timid voice deep inside you whispered, “Uh, he may be wrong about this,” you still saw something sweeping and grand even in his mistakes. His ego was titanic but if you read him, as opposed to just seeing him on TV for a minute, you knew that while a great deal of it was about him, it was never all about him, and besides, self-indulgence is not a sin when there is a fascinating self to indulge. He was loud and bombastic and sometimes violent and ridiculous, but it was all in the search for something that felt like the truth, something to make a stand on.