A Good Career Move
Gore Vidal died Tuesday. He was a writer, celebrity, and a few other things. Mr. Vidal did not suffer false modesty. He probably would not have liked this blog, if he had bothered to look at it. He produced tons of material, much of which is preserved.
The media machine is certain to go into overdrive today. Since Mr. Vidal was 86, and using a wheelchair, this event was not unexpected. The obituaries were pre written, with a blank space reserved for the date of the event.
When Truman Capote passed, Mr. Vidal said it was a good career move. Which of his contemporaries are still around to pass the snark for Gore Vidal?
Eugene Luther Gore Vidal Jr. was born on Oct. 3, 1925, at the United States Military Academy at West Point. His father was an instructor there. His mother divorced him, and married the step father of Jackie Kennedy Onassis. There were upper crust schools, service in World War II, and a few novels. The filthy money of Hollywood beckoned, and Mr. Vidal wrote scripts for TV and movies. There was script doctor work on “Ben Hur”. Mr. Vidal said that Charlton Heston was such a wooden actor that he could supply a furniture factory.
After a while, novels, essays, and TV appearances occupied Mr. Vidal. Myra Breckinridge appeared in 1968, and is currently available on amazon for $0.01. PG paid $0.25 for his copy, and had so much fun reading it.
The movie Myra Breckinridge was a big deal when it came out. PG has never seen it, but heard it was horrible. Mae West came out of retirement to perform. Raquel Welch was on the Dick Cavett show, talking about the vortex of fans at the flick’s premiere. Sex changing has never been the same.
The other book by Gore Vidal that PG owns a copy of is Palimpsest: A Memoir. (Some yard sale had a hardback copy. PG might have paid a dollar.) This is a fun way to kill a few hours. Gore Vidal might be the last man to be angry with Woodrow Wilson for getting America into World War I.
Is it fair to quote one star autobiography reviews while the body is still warm? Was that body ever warm? It doesn’t matter, since Mr. Vidal wouldn’t have bothered to read these.
Why I couldn’t finish this book July 17, 2000 A Customer
1. His ridiculous treatment of his own novels as serious literature. 2. His attempts at revenge (for WHAT?) against Truman Capote and others. (Methinks the lady doth protest too much.) 3. The disillusionment and depression I was experiencing at learning that someone whose wit and intelligence I had always admired is really lacking in both when it comes to writing about his own life.
The only hardcover book I have ever thrown away . . ., February 5, 1998 A Customer
I gave this a “1” because I cannot give it a “0”. A stylized account of who sodomised whom with detail I frankly didn’t want to know, this is an unpleasant exercise in self-agrandisement by a writer suffering from, on the basis the talent displayed here, delusions of adequacy.
Dry As Old Sticks October 16, 2005 Cat Black “Wizard’s Hat” (Boston, Mass)
How could anyone who lived such an interesting life write such a boring book? (…)It’s like the only point of this memoir is to score points off his contemporaries. And in so doing, further puff up his already inflated ego. The guy clearly has no self-awareness whatsoever. Like are we supposed to admire him when he claims he is 100% top in bed and cares not a fig for his partner’s satisfaction? Very admirable, Mr Vidal. What a prince amongst men! His “life partner” is referred to in passing approximately three times in the entire book and is otherwise notable by his absence. As are friends in general. Did Vidal have any? No, just famous acquaintances he could pick apart, if this memoirs is anything to go by. The structure of the book is as self-consciously clever-clever as is the title. A grab bag of memories scattered like cushions over the overstuffed horsehair sofa of the ultimate prissy literary queen.
As this is written, there are 1913 new tweets , waiting to be untwittered. Knowing twitter, many of them are copies of this selection. If you have the time, some of the links might prove to be fun. Gore Vidal was a smart man, and told plenty of journalists about it.
@jaketapper RIP Gore Vidal. I interviewed him 12 years ago > http://www.salon.com/2000/09/20/vidal_5/ Quite an experience!
@morninggloria Gore Vidal, genius even in death, leaves earth before having to endure something called “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.”
@brainpicker “How marvelous books are,crossing worlds & centuries,defeating ignorance &, finally,cruel time itself.” RIP, Gore Vidal http://j.mp/OAJLCd
@PykeA I’ve never read any Gore Vidal, but he’s dead now so I feel like I should, or something. Good starting point?
@GlobeBender Adieu Gore Vidal, equal parts literary genious and pompous gadly (with a tryst here or there w/ Jack Kerouac) http://wapo.st/OCP6wq
@SHotchkissNYC “We had been too happy, and the gods cannot bear the happiness of mortals.” – R.I.P. Mr. Gore Vidal – http://gqm.ag/MiJvMb
@daily “50% of people won’t vote, and 50% don’t read newspapers. I hope it’s the same 50%.” Gore Vidal dies at 86: http://bit.ly/N1sl1Q
@pete_sinclair Angry at a bad review, Norman Mailer punched Gore Vidal at a party. On the floor, Gore said “Once again, words fail Norman Mailer.” #class
@dreamhampton I was born a writer. If you’re born that, you can’t change it. You’re going to do it whether you want to or not. ~Gore Vidal
@thesulk Gore Vidal died. He was the opposite of twitter.
Perhaps the best tweet for today is this: @Holmes7David Gore Vidal quotes: 26 of the best http://gu.com/p/39dnq/tw via @guardian This fine newspaper knew today was coming, and had a collection of quotes ready. They are probably delighted at having something other than the Olympics to discuss. Here are the quotes. Pictures for this feature are from The Library of Congress.
“I never miss a chance to have sex or appear on television.”
“It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail.”
“A narcissist is someone better looking than you are.”
“Any American who is prepared to run for president should automatically by definition be disqualified from ever doing so.”
“Democracy is supposed to give you the feeling of choice like, Painkiller X and Painkiller Y. But they’re both just aspirin.”
“Envy is the central fact of American life.”
“Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little.”
“The United States was founded by the brightest people in the country
and we haven’t seen them since.”
“Every four years the naive half who vote are encouraged to believe that if we can elect a really nice man or woman President everything will be all right. But it won’t be.”
“Andy Warhol is the only genius I’ve ever known with an IQ of 60″
“A good deed never goes unpunished.”
“All children alarm their parents, if only because you are forever expecting to encounter yourself.”
“Apparently, a democracy is a place where numerous elections are held at great cost without issues and with interchangeable candidates.”
“Fifty percent of people won’t vote, and fifty percent don’t read newspapers.
I hope it’s the same fifty percent.”
“Some writers take to drink, others take to audiences.”
“The genius of our ruling class is that it has kept a majority of the people from ever questioning the inequity of a system where most people drudge along,
paying heavy taxes for which they get nothing in return”
“Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.”
“The more money an American accumulates, the less interesting he becomes.”
“The four most beautiful words in our common language: I told you so.”
“Congress no longer declares war or makes budgets.
So that’s the end of the constitution as a working machine.”
“We should stop going around babbling about how we’re the greatest democracy on earth, when we’re not even a democracy. We are a sort of militarised republic.”
“As the age of television progresses the Reagans will be the rule, not the exception. To be perfect for television is all a President has to be these days.”
“Sex is. There is nothing more to be done about it. Sex builds no roads, writes no novels and sex certainly gives no meaning to anything in life but itself.”
“Think of the earth as a living organism that is being attacked by billions of bacteria whose numbers double every forty years. Either the host dies, or the virus dies, or both die.”
“There is no such thing as a homosexual or a heterosexual person. There are only homo- or heterosexual acts. Most people are a mixture of impulses if not practices.”
“There is no human problem which could not be solved if people would simply do as I advise.”
There are more quotes, this time from The Gore Vidal Pages. If you get tired of reading, it is perfectly all right to skip ahead to the pictures. The first five are about Truman Capote .
Truman made lying an art form—a minor art form.
A relentless liar ought to be, if not stopped, curbed.
Every generation gets the Tiny Tim it deserves. – Vespa, Mary. People. June 25, 1979. Vol. 11 No. 25.
[Capote] lived for gossip, and he was also a marvellous liar. No fact ever gave him pause.
A great zircon in the diadem of American literature.
Everything the Bushites touch is screwed up. They could never have pulled off 9/11, even if they wanted to. Even if they longed to. They could step aside, though, or just go out to lunch while these terrible things were happening to the nation. I believe that of them.
Diary: May 5 | Books | The Guardian (online). May 5, 2007.
[When I heard that William F. Buckley had died,] I thought hell is bound to be a livelier place, as he joins forever those whom he served in life, applauding their prejudices and fanning their hatred.
She never baked a pie, but she did manage to drink, in the course of a lifetime, the equivalent of the Chesapeake Bay in vodka. – on his mother. – Point to Point Navigation (2006).
Reading a speech with his usual sense of discovery. – on Eisenhower speaking at the Republican Convention (Source attribution sought; contact gorevidalpages-at-gmail.com)
[Princess Margaret] was far too intelligent for her station in life. She often had bad press, the usual fate of wits in a literal society. – Point to Point Navigation (2006).
She’s just another dum-dum waddling along the pike. And she is not demure. If she were demure, she’d realize that there are whole areas in which a 10th-rate member of Congress ought to keep her trap shut. Nobody cares about her views. – on Congresswoman Michelle Bachman (R-Minnesota). Interview with Timothy Hodler. Details. March 2011.
[Tennessee Williams' writings had] a tone of voice the like of which had not been heard since Mark Twain. Each was a comic genius within a dark universe that the innocent persist in calling “home sweet home.” – Point to Point Navigation (2006).