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Christopher Hitchens: The Candidates for the 2000 Presidency, 6 January 2000

... and nothing to write about. A day or so passed, in this city of sinister charm (once described by Gore Vidal as ‘the Vatican of the John Birch Society’), in an agony of boredom and irrelevance. And then the ABC News Nightline team, the flagship of supposedly serious coverage, announced that it was vacating its skybox and leaving town. No story. Thus ...

No Accident

Zachary Leader: Gore Vidal’s Golden Age, 21 June 2001

The Golden Age: A Novel 
by Gore Vidal.
Little, Brown, 467 pp., £17.99, October 2000, 0 316 85409 3
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... Of course I like my country,’ Gore Vidal has written. ‘After all, I’m its current biographer.’ With the publication of The Golden Age, the biography draws to a close. The novels which comprise it, to list them in order of the historical periods they cover, are Burr (1973), Lincoln (1984), 1876 (1976, of course), Empire (1987), Hollywood (1989), Washington, DC (1967) and now The Golden Age ...

Unfair to gays

Simon Raven, 19 June 1980

The Homosexual as Hero in Contemporary Fiction 
by Stephen Adams.
Vision, 208 pp., £10.95, March 1980, 0 85478 204 4
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... methods and messages are diverse and individual, he settles down to record them, beginning with Gore Vidal and ending with Jean Genet. His manner is to give detailed and surprisingly readable accounts of the plots of an author’s salient novels, sprinkling these accounts with sharp comments as to the thought or motive that may have lain behind such ...

Imperial Dope

Alan Hollinghurst, 4 June 1981

by Gore Vidal.
Heinemann, 510 pp., £8.95, April 1981, 0 394 50015 6
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... Creation is a novel that describes, creates and analyses history, and it is not the first of Gore Vidal’s novels to do so. He has already devoted a lengthy trilogy to American history, and Julian, though set some eight hundred years later than Creation, shares the new novel’s concern with history both political and religious in the ancient world ...

Short Cuts

Jenny Diski: The Falklands, 8 March 2012

... in the world-power game puffing itself up like an elephant seal to fight for its colonies? Gore Vidal once said that England should become one of the ‘lands’ and understand its geographical and political place in the world: Iceland, Newfoundland, Greenland, England. If that’s too hard to bear, we could at least look to Scandinavia (does the ...


Frank Kermode, 24 July 1986

The Moronic Inferno and Other Visits to America 
by Martin Amis.
Cape, 208 pp., £9.95, July 1986, 0 224 02385 3
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... and positively Asiatic in manner. He, on the other hand, is brief and relatively Attic (‘Vidal’s looks, in common with everything else about Vidal, are dear to Vidal’s heart’). These differences in length and manner may have something to do with the exiguous spaces in which ...


Susannah Clapp, 18 February 1988

A Woman of Passion: The Life of E. Nesbit, 1858-1924 
by Julia Briggs.
Hutchinson, 473 pp., £16.95, November 1987, 9780091682101
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Narratives of Love and Loss: Studies in Modern Children’s Fiction 
by Margaret Rustin and Michael Rustin.
Verso, 268 pp., £22.95, November 1987, 9780860911876
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... only character but forceful personalities. They are irritable, embarrassable, funny and ingenious. Gore Vidal has remarked that they are exactly like adults, ‘except for one difference. In a well-ordered and stable society (England in the time of the gross Edward), children are as clearly defined a minority group as Jews and Negroes in other times and ...

Christian v. Cannibal

Michael Rogin: Norman Mailer and American history, 1 April 1999

The American Century 
by Harold Evans.
Cape, 710 pp., £40, November 1998, 0 224 05217 9
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The Time of Our Time 
by Norman Mailer.
Little, Brown, 1286 pp., £25, September 1998, 0 316 64571 0
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... fool of oneself in a speech before Vietnam protesters at the Pentagon march or losing to the Gore Vidal/Janet Flanner tandem on the Dick Cavett show. This self-centred writer – who returned to public prominence after a bad Fifties by publishing a collection entitled Advertisements for Myself (1959) – has chosen for this anthology the most ...

Hemingway Hunt

Frank Kermode, 17 April 1986

Along with Youth: Hemingway, the Early Years 
by Peter Griffin.
Oxford, 258 pp., £12.95, March 1986, 0 19 503680 8
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The Young Hemingway 
by Michael Reynolds.
Blackwell, 291 pp., £14.95, February 1986, 0 631 14786 1
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Hemingway: A Biography 
by Jeffrey Meyers.
Macmillan, 646 pp., £16.95, March 1986, 0 333 42126 4
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... not to see a play but to enjoy what was meant to be a thrilling contest between Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal. The place was packed; except for those sponsored by some publisher, the audience had bought very expensive tickets, and they displayed a keenness more appropriate to a prizefight. Indeed a prizefight was what they expected, Mailer and ...

In Venice

Hal Foster: At the Biennale, 4 August 2005

... of the Caesar’, which stars Helen Mirren, done up à la Fellini-Rome, and ends with Gore Vidal promising that this extravaganza is ‘coming soon to a theatre near you’. Also pervasive here as elsewhere are the large painterly photograph and the even larger projected image, both of which are often treated digitally. These formats have ...

I adore your moustache

James Wolcott: Styron’s Letters, 24 January 2013

Selected Letters of William Styron 
edited by Rose Styron and R. Blakeslee Gilpin.
Random House, 643 pp., £24.99, December 2012, 978 1 4000 6806 7
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... school of Great White Males (Styron, Norman Mailer, James Jones, John Updike, Saul Bellow, Gore Vidal, J.D. Salinger, Joseph Heller, the recently retired Philip Roth), whose ghostly father and bearded Neptune disturbing the liquor cabinet deep into the night was Ernest Hemingway. Even those least influenced by Hemingway’s style couldn’t fail ...

The Fame Game

Alan Brien, 6 September 1984

by Steven Aronson.
Hutchinson, 198 pp., £5.95, May 1984, 0 09 156251 1
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Automatic Vaudeville 
by John Lahr.
Heinemann, 241 pp., £8.95, September 1984, 0 434 40188 9
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Broadway Babies: The People who made the American Musical 
by Ethan Mordden.
Oxford, 244 pp., £19, August 1984, 0 19 503345 0
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... believe it. His contemporary evidence for hype’s ‘essentially American origins’ is based on Gore Vidal; it hardly seems to square with what has gone before. Vidal explains what was apparently long a well-known American defect – difficulty in making conversation – by going back to Frontier days, when ‘it was ...

Not Enough Delilahs

Andrew O’Hagan: Lillian Ross, 4 July 2019

by Lillian Ross.
NYRB, 219 pp., £14.99, June 2019, 978 1 68137 315 7
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... examples, demonstrating that Ephron was the world’s worst writer, even worse than Susan Sontag, Gore Vidal and Renata Adler. A few years later, I would understand the hatred when Ephron wrote a very funny account (‘The Legend’) of her mother throwing Lillian out of a party.Great reporting isn’t usually harmed by the reporter having a poor ...
Leaving a Doll’s House: A Memoir 
by Claire Bloom.
Virago, 288 pp., £16.99, October 1996, 1 86049 146 4
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... Manhattan apartment into a hotel: Bloom flies to Rome and takes dubious solace in the company of Gore Vidal). Then there are the fascinating financial particulars. Nothing suggests more piquantly the delicate Oedipal relations between Roth, Bloom and Bloom’s teenage daughter Anna (by former husband Rod Steiger), than the incident in which Roth ...


Ian Hamilton: Locating the G-Spot, 5 August 1982

... and without interruption now and then from sceptical oldies like Norman Mailer, Truman Capote and Gore Vidal, the tale of Edie might easily have drooled off into a dreary catalogue of hippy-scene excess. As it is, the book shrewdly keeps the straight world in its sights: a nicely judged mix of the titillating and the admonitory. After Edie, I am ...

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