Oh oh, a post out of sequence (repel athq), but I am well impressed with octogenarian Gore Vidal’s current media blitz. South Bank Show, Hard Talk, the Guardian and the Hay Festival have all recently featured the sci-fi writing, historian, novelist, gayest pensioner, scourge of the dumb and daft (he says John McCain is “intellectually in George W Bush’s league” – tsk). I’ve read most of Vidal’s books by now, numbering over 50, and as a youngster considered a trek to Italy just to camp on his doorstep so as to meet him.
Correspondent with Tim McVeigh (who invited him to his execution – now there’s an A-list fixture) and relative of both Jackie O and climatic Al Gore, I love his epic historico-fictions the best. He had a bit part in the film ‘Bob Roberts’ as a senator and was Director Joseph in ‘Gattaca’, but he should also have been in the West Wing. His inspirational novel Julian is matched by Visitor to a Small Planet and the cross-gendering Myra Breckenridge, but even his recent older-statesman essays deserve considered respect.
Scriptwriter for ‘Ben Hur’ – making Heston camp was exquisite – and in later years a great essayist and memoirist, the present media blitz cashes in on what would in England be called ‘national treasure’ status. Only Vidal deserves it more than the Palins of this world. Read his commentary on Capote and the bird (Tennessee Williams) in Palimpsest for sheer eloquence.