Skip to comments.Famous For His Hates: The Cool, Witty Gore Vidal
Posted on 08/01/2012 6:46:02 PM PDT by Drango
Chris Bram is the author of the novel Gods and Monsters.
Gore Vidal was famous for his hates: academia, presidents, whole portions of the American public and, most notably, Truman Capote. Yet he could be incredibly generous to other writer friends. He wrote beautiful, appreciative essays about Tennessee Williams and Dawn Powell.
He was a man of many facets and endless contradictions.
He achieved his first notoriety in 1948 when he was only 22, for his novel, The City and the Pillar. It was the fullest, most frank portrait of gay American life at that time. The book wasn't autobiographical but anyone reading it could safely assume its author knew this world firsthand. Homosexuality was still illegal throughout the country. The book was a best-seller, but both book and author were viciously attacked. Vidal later claimed he had expected this response, but how many 22-year-olds can anticipate such public humiliation?
He backed away from the topic afterward and wrote first for TV and then for the movies. But he still wanted to write fiction, and he was too honest not to want to explore his sexuality. He hit upon an ingenious strategy, arguing that "homosexual" was an adjective, not a noun. There was no such thing as a homosexual person, only homosexual acts. In 1968 he published Myra Breckenridge, where transsexuality leaves the gay/straight question in the dust. Later that year he got into a battle with William F. Buckley, which began with Buckley calling him a queer on national television during the Democratic convention. It ended with the two fighting it out in the pages of Esquire and later the law courts.
More important than sex to Vidal was politics and history. He wrote several best-selling novels about the two. My own favorites are Julian and Burr. But his best writing was in his essays. He hated hearing this, but his essays are witty, informed, surprising, covering a broad range of topics: sexuality, of course, politics and history, but also literature and the movies.
As a teenager, I first knew him as a TV personality, then as an essayist and only later as a novelist. His public persona had such authority that I once dreamed we spoke. He told me the novel I was working on was a mess. I should put it aside and start a new one. I woke up in a cold sweat, thinking, 'No, no, I can fix it, I can make it work' before I remembered I had never met Gore Vidal and it was only a bad dream. (Incidentally, he was right: I never was able to publish that novel.)
Vidal lived for 53 years with Howard Austen, but spoke about him only late in his life. He joked that the secret of their longevity was that they never had sex with each other, only other people. Yet his account of Austen's death in 2003 in his memoir, Point to Point Navigation is heartbreaking.
Gore Vidal did not want to be known as a gay writer. And he was much more than that. But he was also the godfather of gay literature, in spite of himself. Gay men of my generation and older used him as an example, even a role model. If this cool, witty, outrageous man can succeed with American readers, maybe we can, too.
NPR is rewriting history. (typical)
Vidal called Buckley a nazi. Buckley responded. Role the tape.
Mr Buckley is deceased and cannot defend his reputation. NPR is filth.
NPR - for those who cannot possibly earn their living from actual sponsors.
NPR - we’ve got what it takes to take what you’ve got.
NPR - Don’t worry, we’re not at the bottom of the SAT barrel - that’s for our close democrat politician keepers.
NPR is absolutely pathetic save the classical music. There is no reason why that operation should be under the exclusive control of Leftwing, sniveling hacks.
Gore Vidal was filth personified. Why didn’t he like Truman Capote? They were birds of a feather.
Yes and we the taxpayers help pay for it. They expect us to pay for their filthy agenda even as they try to suppress our voices.
It’s a sick world where “witty” and “sophisticated” are synonyms for “sodomite”. What’s so witty about short life expectancies thanks to the disgusting and unnatural acts they commit and the promiscuity of that lifestyle?
The Queen is dead!
I thought the vile creature was already dead. He won’t be missed.
NPR had better hire some sales reps, We just do not have the money. Were broke and just don’t know it yet. But we will soon, and so will they.
To paraphrase Mark Twain “I can’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice card saying I approved.”
Really? To me he was a meat gazing pole smoker.
The funny thing is that Vidal is actually the homosexualist who first coined the term ‘homosexualist.’ His point was that using ‘sexual’, heterosexual, or ‘homosexual’ as a noun didn’t make sense, if I recall.
My fingers are worn to the bone typing ‘Defund NPR/PBS’. But then, you knew that.
Vidal was a snarky, nasty, puffed up, homosexual leftist.
He was another darling author of the left even though many others found his writing biased and pedantic.
The Cool, Witty, COMMIE SOB, Gore Vidal. RIH!
He seems to have been just a twisted pathetic ‘wit’ who understood nothing.
A thinner Michael Moore.
Lizzie Warren can be a homosexual male.......if it helps her get a job.