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And hence his sexual life was cut off or split off from his emotional life. It was strange because he lived in a time when there was this huge revolution in gay rights. Mailer wrote something about Vidal’s novels that I think is very true: “The difficulty of writing in a narcissistic vein is that one’s heroes are hermetically sealed in upon themselves. So Gore has the one voice, but he puts different clothes or costumes on the character, but it’s just Gore. And when the essayistic voice penetrates the novels, they become really interesting novels. Vidal famously feuded with other novelists, but he seemed to admire Saul Bellow. And he would read my books and manuscripts and give me great suggestions.Yet his views on the subject didn’t seem to evolve much. His self was so elaborately constructed, but it was porcelain. Nothing dramatic passes between them and other persons in the novel. “I am Myra Breckenridge whom no man can conquer.” Whether it’s the voice of Burr or the voice of Lincoln, that’s just Gore talking. I think his greatest talent was for the essays, which are just fantastic. Saul Bellow was the one writer who persistently attracted his admiration. I think that Bellow was the one person who had an even tighter armor built around himself, and it was ferocious. I mean, obviously, Truman Capote screamed at you, “I’m gay, I’m gay! And Gore liked boys who were all men, that was his phrase. He kind of invented a version of the modern, or post-modern public intellectual. I think there was such massive self-hatred there, but combining with that bright spirit as well. Do you think he is read now by people under the age of 50 or 60? He would also talk to me about what he was going to do next. So even though he could be prickly and difficult and a true pain in the ass, I was getting so much from the friendship, that I felt it was worth it.
“Shoot me from this side,” Gore Vidal always told me, as if despite having produced four or five of his interviews with his friend Dick Cavett, I was too dense to remember which profile he preferred.
On each occasion, Vidal looked through me as if we’d never met before. Or, more likely, Vidal, an immense snob, considered a mere TV producer of no greater interest than the butler in a friend’s house. And what I remember most about meeting the writer in the flesh is how nervous, even wounded, he seemed.
Parini, whose novels include , has also written poetry and biographies of Robert Frost, John Steinbeck, and William Faulkner.
Parini was a close friend of Vidal’s and considered him a mentor.
But reading your biography, it seemed as though he was quite wounded. Gore had the narcissistic hole that can never be filled from a deep sense of disassociation early on when he had no mother’s love. But what was it in his character that made him need to take on those airs? If you were talking to your students at Middlebury and they agreed to read one thing by Vidal, what would you tell them to read? The fluidity of sexual lives in that book are really very postmodern. But if he came to his senses, he would realize I am actually doing him a service here.
Gore Vidal Political Essays
I think it was a desperate need to feel superior to other people. And you could imagine the book being reissued tomorrow and it being very popular. Because I am presenting a genuine human being who through immense effort did manage to create a space for himself in the larger world.But also the large difference between them was that Gore kept working really, really hard. But do you think that doing all that TV hurt his literary reputation? He squandered a lot of his literary capital on television. We are in the moment of nostalgia for an age when public intellectuals would swing bats in the world. Certainly he and Mailer reconciled in a fairly genuine way. Well, because he is a man who is already cut off from the people around him. Did you have any sense of betrayal as you removed one mask after another. How do you explain the renewed interest in the intellectual figures of his era? Nowadays public intellectuals are so out of the limelight, they don’t really have a voice. But Buckley to the end, he felt was his bitter enemy. We’re in the age of Trump now, for God’s sake, the opposite of an age of discourse. He did write, you know, “Buckley rest in hell,” after Buckley died. Both of them guys from nowhere who had climbed that greasy pole. Listen to the accent that Gore uses in those Buckley-Vidal tapes. Vidal chose to spend much of his life living in Italy. He would claim that it meant that he could focus more intently on America at a distance. Political talk is no longer even aspiring to the condition of discourse. But I was surprised to read that he didn’t really speak Italian. That allowed him to think more objectively about the U. Vidal’s lineage in American literature may be traced back to Henry James, the sophisticated American from the upper echelons of society who mingles with European sophisticates, and Mark Twain, the raw humorist and critic of American empire.Early Years Vidal was born in 1925 with high political and social connections.And he desperately clung to any shred of background that could help promote him. It’s very strange the way he used the word “faggot “much the way some African Americans use the N word…Yes, but I’d say the word he used most [when referring to himself and other homosexuals] was the word “degenerate.” You know, he would ask me about someone and say, “Well, is he a degenerate like me? There is very little that he said about politics that doesn’t have some resonance today.Vidal liked to claim that he had ice in his veins—and that he was incapable of love. ” To use that phrase for a gay man is a sign of self-devaluation. And yet a lot of his prejudices didn’t change over the years. He must have been an incredibly difficult person to know. I ask myself a thousand times why I put up with it.It is inevitably the study of lonely decomposition.” Do you think that’s true about Vidal’s fiction? How do you explain the intensity of Vidal’s dislike of Truman Capote? And Gore didn’t ever show any sign of being a traditional gay man. Gore really invented it: talking on television, debating people, writing political essays. The hard work and the bright energy and the wit are always counterbalanced by the dark side. And then, when he became completely lonely and an alcoholic, it would have been cruel to abandon Gore.I think that’s true and I think Gore’s books are all acts of solo talking. And also he thought Truman represented the worst of the career-seeking climber of social ladders because Gore was that himself, but he did it with subtlety. He said that he never turned down television or sex. He knew that he risked being dismissed as simply a character, an entertainer, which to some degree he was. I think that whole generation is looking suddenly very interesting to us. I would think that it would be an unhappy way to live. Vidal liked to say he didn’t care what happened to his work after he died. So I just decided to go in the opposite direction and try to help him. But Gore was alert to the fact that I was a biographer. Gore, I think, knew in many ways his greatest work of art was his life, and to have a hopefully sophisticated take on that life with the appropriate respect for him as a human being and as a working artist and public intellectual—I mean, on some level, that’s got to please him.