‘Diana Trilling had the look of a woman who had just been struck a glancing but telling blow by a sledgehammer’

How much do writers hate each other?

This much:

The mayhem escalated. In a notorious St Valentine’s Day massacre of his literary rivals in Esquire in 1963 called ‘Some Children of the Goddess’, Mailer not only performed a gruesome autopsy of Set This House on Fire – ‘the magnum opus of a fat spoiled rich boy’, ‘a bad maggoty novel’ where ‘four or five half-great short stories were buried like pullulating organs in a corpse of fecal matter’ – but also sought to jam a crowbar between Styron and James Jones, of whose friendship he was jealous, revealing that Styron had hosted a gathering where the evening’s entertainment consisted of reading aloud choice execrable passages from the galleys of Some Came Running for everyone’s merriment.

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