I'm with Rick Brookhiser more than Roger Kimball. From what I've read of him, Mailer seems to belong - despite their wildly divergent styles and personae - to the same class of writers as Tom Wolfe: Immensely talented and creative wordsmiths who wasted far too much time (Wolfe, late in his career; Mailer, throughout) trying to be Great American Novelists, a task neither was really up to, instead of conducting the experiments in essays and narrative nonfiction that both will be remembered for.

However, I haven't made my way through Harlot's Ghost, which many people whose literary judgment I trust (including Christopher Hitchens) have suggested is the place where Mailer came closet to achieve his GAN ambition, and I should probably reserve judgment until I've blocked out a few weeks to read it.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.