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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 ...


Patrick Parrinder, 23 November 1989

Christopher Unborn 
by Carlos Fuentes, translated by Alfred MacAdam.
Deutsch, 531 pp., £13.95, October 1989, 0 233 98016 4
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The Faber Book of Contemporary Latin American Short Stories 
edited by Nick Caistor.
Faber, 188 pp., £11.99, September 1989, 0 571 15359 3
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by Gore Vidal.
Deutsch, 543 pp., £12.95, November 1989, 9780233984957
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Oldest living Confederate widow tells all 
by Allan Gurganus.
Faber, 718 pp., £12.99, November 1989, 9780571142019
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... on a child in the womb Christopher Unborn is among the most patriarchal of contemporary novels.) Gore Vidal in his recent incarnation is a Son of Waterloo, a sober historical chronicler. Hollywood is the sixth in a series of novels set roughly at twenty-year intervals which he has described as a fictive biography of the United States. The title ...

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 ...


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 ...


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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...


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 ...
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: It's a size thing, 19 September 1985

... and he was spoiling for a fight. What is it with these New York lit-celebs? A year or two ago, Gore Vidal published a book-length essay of complaint in the Spectator after his new volume of essays had been underhailed by the London reviewers. Again, I was named among the guilty men and Vidal’s tone, like ...

Redeemable Bad Guy

Ian Hamilton: Rabbit and Zooey, 2 April 1998

Toward the End of Time 
by John Updike.
Hamish Hamilton, 334 pp., £16.99, February 1998, 0 241 13862 0
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Golf Dreams 
by John Updike.
Penguin, 224 pp., £6.99, February 1998, 0 14 026156 7
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... highbrow novelist – not in the sense that, say, Saul Bellow might believe himself to be, or even Gore Vidal. Vidal, all too predictably, sneers at Updike as a middlebrow provincial, by which he seems to mean that Updike timorously fails to stride forward as a global sage, or as a ‘custodian’ of threatened highbrow ...

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 ...

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 ...

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