At this past meeting, Peter Maurice spotted this in a collection of essays from Norman Mailer.
Under financial and contract pressure, Norman Mailer hurried out a novel called Tough Guys Don’t Dance. He admits this rush-job was flawed, but one thing came through –the style. Which prompts him to say in self-criticism:
You can write a very bad book, but if the style is first-rate, then you’ve got something….The shining example might be G.K. Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday. It was an undeniably silly plot unless you invest a great deal into it. A worshipful right-wing critic can do a blitheringly wonderful thesis on the symbolic leaps and acrobatics of The Man Who Was Thursday, but actually, it’s about as silly as a Jules Verne novel. Yet the writing itself is fabulous The style is extraordinary. The aperçus are marvelous. The Man Who Was Thursday proves the point: style is half of a novel. (Norman Mailer. Social Life, Literary Desires, Literary Corruption. Collected in Mind of an Outlaw: Selected Essays, 2003)
Peter thinks all but the most worshipful Chestertonian would think this a fair assessment.