There’s no use pretending that at the age of 25 I was a tried-and-true professional who knew what he was doing. Nonetheless, probably half the people who read me think The Naked and the Dead is my best book, because it has many of the qualities that a marvelous novel written by an amateur can have. It’s open, it’s daring, it’s not afraid to take chances. It takes chances all over the place. More of them succeed than fail. It’s not bound by the rigors of style. Once you become a professional, style becomes very important to you. It’s the way professional models wouldn’t dream of going out in public improperly dressed, by their lights. It’s part of who they are. And so, in a certain sense, once you become a true professional, style is part of what you are. You wouldn’t turn out a piece of sloppy prose, not anymore. When you’re an amateur it’s the excitement of writing is so marvelous. There it is! The words are coming out! You don’t really pay attention to where the words are that good and where they’re that bad. You don’t have the experience to judge yet. So in that sense, yes, The Naked and the Dead was a book by an amateur.