December 15, 1991 |
Some talk about the Bill of Rights and others use it--testing the power of the freedom enshrined. Gore Vidal does both--exquisitely. Love him or hate him, Vidal is one of the smartest, most provocative and productive writers in the country. Author of five plays, six collections of essays and 22 novels, he has also worked on numerous screenplays.
September 30, 2003 |
Behind every great man, it is said, stands a great woman. For Lord Nelson, it was Emma Hamilton. For Scott Fitzgerald, it was Zelda. For Kenneth Tynan, it was Elaine Dundy. Sometimes the woman is a man. For Somerset Maugham, it was Alan Searle. For W.H. Auden, it was Chester Kallman. For Christopher Isherwood, it was Don Bachardy. For Gore Vidal, it was Howard Austen, who died on Sept. 22 in Los Angeles of brain cancer at age 74.
September 8, 2006 |
"I guess there is something wrong with me, Mr. Beckman, because I can't for the life of me see what business it is of anyone else what I do." So says the protagonist of "The Zenner Trophy" -- an exceptionally bright young man about to be expelled from a fashionable prep school over an ongoing affair with another youth.
November 5, 2006 |
IN an era when droves of American writers have deserted the novel for the cozier pleasures of the confessional -- and when pouring your heart out, preferably on television, has become a national sport -- Gore Vidal remains an unlikely memoirist. Long ago, he pronounced himself "the least autobiographical of novelists."
March 15, 1998 |
In 1948, still in his early 20s, having already published two quite creditable works of fiction, Gore Vidal made literary history with "The City and the Pillar," the first mainstream American novel to treat homosexual desire as a natural, if not exactly commonplace, phenomenon in the life of a normal, red-blooded American male. In the 50 years since then, in an amazingly inventive variety of literary and even extra-literary forms, Vidal has continued his role as gadfly.
September 17, 2000 |
For years now, the promise of a new Gore Vidal book has been something to get the blood running or boiling. No other American writer has maintained quite such a radical, iconoclastic vision of his nation's past, and nowhere has Vidal been more provocative than in what he calls his "narratives of empire," a series of historical novels tracing the American republic from its beginnings to what he sees as its degeneration into a global, quasi-totalitarian behemoth.
May 7, 2006 |
Hello, this is Gore Vidal," the East Egg baritone announced. "Is Richard there?" I stammered a return greeting as the voice continued, "I read your story . . ." and then halted. On a Sunday in the spring of 1982, my article about Vidal's campaign for the California Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate had appeared in the San Jose Mercury News. Titled "The Plight of the Writer in Politics," it keyed off the upcoming primary pitting Vidal against soon-to-be-ex-Gov. Jerry Brown.
May 23, 1993 |
Gore Vidal the novelist's best character is Gore Vidal the essayist. Beside him even Myra Breckenridge seems a pale creation, and this great fat book, chronicling 40 years of the essayist's adventures, is like a lively picaresque novel in reverse.
September 13, 1992 |
If God exists and Jesus is His son, then Gore Vidal is going to hell. And if God is a Jew, Vidal is no better off. There's enough to outrage everyone in this audacious and courageous send-up of "the story of Our Lord Jesus Christ as told in the three synoptic gospels as well as by that creep John" and by St. Paul in the epistles to St. Timothy.
September 13, 1992 |
In the world according to Gore Vidal, political power may reside in the imperial mansions of Washington, D.C., but the true, imaginative capital of America is Hollywood, California, "the source," as his sublime creation, the character Myra Breckinridge, once put it, "of all this century's legends."