What’s perhaps most striking about this biography is just how well Lennon draws together the complex tangle of contradictions that Mailer embodied and gives them a logical sheen. He knew his subject well: Lennon first met Mailer in 1972 and remained his close friend, seeing him regularly up until his death. On his website, Lennon says that Mailer felt comfortable in the company of Irish-Americans. “I’ve always loved the Irish and felt very close to them,” Mailer explained at one point. “The Irish have this great bravura, a style, an elegance.”