The biographies of most writers go roughly like this: born, type, type, type, acclaim, type, type, type, marry, type, type, type, die.

Mailer is the exception. He never stinted on the typing, being a stranger to brevity – ‘I can’t get someone through a door,’ he once said, ‘without blowing a thousand words.’

But he also found plenty of time for activities that other authors can only imagine, such as sex and violence.