He does not, over all, pad his essays about literature, film or other cultural phenomenon with an expected Liberal Arts tic of insisting that what he's inspecting is an advancement . Instead of rose colored glasses, he prefers coated in Crisco. On politics I think he is rather bloodless and elevated in his No pronouncements--at some point it seems he felt he had to out do WF Buckley for patrician airs, but from the Left.
It's essays on literature I find rewarding over and over and over again as I go to him for judgments from a man who is well read and who regards the writing of fiction to be something of a sacred trust , owing to art but finally meant to present readerships with complicated tales of complicated, comic, tragic characters in hairy times , folks whose tales help readerships experience something new and provoke to think outside their comfort zones. He was cranky in this regard, and its here I find a fiery advocate for the well written novel.
His prose style is perfect for his essays, especially his literary cave diving, but his fiction wordage is High Competence . Not horrible, not awkward, occasionally evocative, but rather flat so far as euphony is concerned. He is a good novelist, not a great one, a professional writer who, though not a genius, has written some masterpieces . I would say Burr, 1876 and Lincoln are in that arena. He wrote things, many things, that are just exercises, novels he wrote as though to win a bet. I have always found his satire to be mean, smug and fatally unfunny.