Q – I’ve been looking on Google News for any sign of your being hit up for a quote about Mailer, given your famous couplet, but I’ve found none. Were you actually a fan?

A – A fan of his writing, not really. To be honest I’ve read very little Mailer. As an icon, though, I remain very much a fan. I read a great Clive James essay on him recently and he was such a lovable rogue that it was remarkably easy to forgive him all of the alimony books he churned out, and once in a while he would produce something fantastic, so you could never write him off. Not unlike Dylan or the Rolling Stones.