August-1st-2012, 01:18 AM
Gore Vidal, RIP
Buckley vs Vidal -- nothing comparable now, is there?
Gore Vidal, chronicler of American life and politics, dies
By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 1:21 AM EDT, Wed August 1, 2012
(CNN) -- Gore Vidal, an eclectic author who faithfully chronicled the major shifts and upheavals in the United States in books, essays and plays, has died. He was 86.
Vidal died at his Los Angeles home Tuesday evening of complications from pneumonia, his nephew Burr Steers said. The author had also been suffering from heart ailments.
Widely hailed as one of America's greatest man of letters, Vidal was a high-profile commentator on politics, including his bitter opposition to the war in Iraq.
Born into politics as the member of a rich and powerful family, he joined the Navy at 17 before shocking the world by writing one of the first novels to include an openly gay character: his 1948 work "The City and the Pillar."
Since then, he wrote 24 novels, five plays, numerous screenplays, more than 200 essays and the memoir "Palimpsest." His collection of essays, "United States: Essays, 1952-1992," won the National Book Award in 1993.
Vidal also appeared in a number of films, including the political satire "Bob Roberts" where he played a U.S. Senator.
He ran for office in 1960, calling for the recognition of Communist China, and later made a Senate bid in 1982, which became the subject of a documentary.
Throughout his life, Vidal didn't shy away from controversy, either actively courting it or inviting it through his ascerbic one-liners.
"I've had hard targets in my lifetime. I've taken on general superstitions, but that's what writers do. So I certainly, wouldn't have changed my modus vivendi one bit," he said in a CNN interview in 2007.
In the latter stages of his life, Vidal often appeared on the television talk show circuit, going head to head with those with opposing viewpoints, and he gave as good as he got.
In one live TV debate, conservative author and journalist William F. Buckley Jr. famously called him a "queer."
"Well, I mean I won the debates, there was no question of that," Vidal recounted. "They took polls, it was ABC Television... And because I'm a writer, people think that I'm this poor little fragile thing. I'm not poor and fragile. ... And anybody who insults me is going to get it right back."
He also voiced himself on the animated show "The Simpsons."
Vidal would say he was a once-famous novelist who was relegated to going on television because people "seldom read anymore."
"All these literary prizes should go to the readers: 'Nobel Prize for the best reader in Milwaukee.' And you know, we must honor them because they are so few," he said in the same CNN interview.
August-1st-2012, 02:18 AM
R.I.P., Mr. Vidal. you contributed much and are appreciated.
August-1st-2012, 06:02 AM
Plus ça change...
Hadn't heard that. I went through a big Vidal period. Loved his piece on L. Frank Baum and the one on all the best-selling books. Also Burr, of course. What a smarty-pants rooster he was.
“The lot of critics is to be remembered by what they failed to understand.”--George Moore
August-1st-2012, 07:49 AM
We were in Italy on the Amalfi Coast once. Wandering around at night through various tiny communities, we stumbled upon a beautiful procession of some kind, complete with a little brass band right out of Michael Corleone's time in Sicily. It was a magical night. We found a lovely little restaurant and as we entered, there sat Mr, Vidal, conversing animatedly with a companion. Great food. We later learned that he lived in that very same town. Unfortunately I can't remember the name at this moment.
August-1st-2012, 09:27 AM
▼ Molly the Barn Owl
Originally Posted by Jazzooo
Last edited by bluenoter; August-1st-2012 at 09:29 AM.
August-1st-2012, 11:43 AM
Absolutely ravelo. Thanks, Rita.
August-1st-2012, 01:47 PM
26 Vidal quotes
"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."