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This explosively entertaining memoir abounds in gossip, satire, historical apercus , and trenchant observations. Vidal’s compelling narrative. Vidal’s account of his first 39 years includes his reminiscences of a host of prominent Gore Vidal, Author Penguin Books $20 (p) ISBN Aside from being an essayist, novelist and screenwriter, Gore Vidal in his memoir Palimpsest that he was “attracted to adolescent males”.

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Nor is it entirely convincing, for once: In connection with a new book about Vidalhis half-sister and a nephew have hinted that he may have had a secret passion for underage boys.

As a writer he met lots of other writers, and the book is a cross between a literary who’s who and a scurrilous gossip column. Fun, if not necessarily truthful, read. An engrossing and beguiling read. Possibly the best memoir ever written.

At a critical juncture early in his career, he decided to go ahead with the publication of his third novel, The City and the Pillar, over the objections of his agent. At the start of our story in the present, as an old man he meets with Jimmie’s mother. Number 2 in series.

Christopher Hitchens reviews ‘Palimpsest’ by Gore Vidal · LRB 19 October

Vidal, through his own hard work, had a considerable fortune to dispose of, and none of it went to any of those so eagerly waiting to see themselves in the list of fortunate beneficiaries. Gore’s age, class, and profession have allowed him to be in contact with just about every important person in art, politics, and pop culture in the last century.

Myra Breckinridge And Myron. Vidal is selfish and self-obsessed. Read this book, go kiss your mother and tell her you’re the luckiest child in the world. There is an additional source of latter-day resentment.


The Carl Rogers Reader. My Life with Wagner. A weakness, though, of “Palimpsest” is Vidal’s decision not to discuss these books and their consequences in greater detail. Nonetheless, the story of GV’s live – literary, political, sexual – will keep you reading.


Published September 1st by Penguin Books first published Perhaps best remembered for his caustic wit, he referred to himself as a “gentleman bitch” and has been described as the 20th century’s answer to Gord Wilde Also used the pseudonym Edgar Box. Jun 22, Stephen Brody rated it really liked it. So naturally he was also hated because he was feared, all to little avail of course.

Very easy reading as it is frothy material-stories about the people Vidal knew and he seemed to know everyone. Of necessity, Jackie married twice for money, with splendid results. In this hurricane of casual sex and casual friendships, the one constant is grief, which is slowly revealed to dominate the book.

Lee Radziwill whose secret service codename was supposedly ‘rancidass’ is so loathed that her presence dominates the Kennedy Administration for him and therefore us. And, if retrospectively proved encounters with underage males in foreign jurisdictions were to make a writer unpalatable, then there would be many gaps in the literary gire. Vidal is clearly entranced by celebrity: A chapter that will stick with palipmsest described his last visit with Allen Ginsberg, who I vifal quite visionary, and casually detailed Ginsberg’s health problems as an elderly man.

In fact, he has written better. Concerning his own life, Vidal hated his mother, and had only one true love, Jimmy Trimble, whom he met at school, and they were lovers from the age of 12 until the age of 19, when Jimmy Trimble was killed in the Second World War. Of course not explicitly because he wrote the book about himself, but there are little red flags in the text that remind me of patterns of justification and behaviour of people who put their own interests in the centre of their actions and disregard the feelings and views of other people.


Vidal and Jackie Kennedy Onassis shared a common stepfather, whom both of their mothers had married for his money. Highly recommended, in other words.

Step-brother to Jackie Kennedy Onassis nee Bouvier and her sister Caroline Lee, and generally very well-connected from an early age, Vidal is nevertheless at pains to observe throughout the book that the essential choice he made was never to let his possible privileges make him passive. None of that is funny at all and the best that Vidal, escaping to the libraries of Europe, could muster was a sort of wry cynicism where the pen, if not mightier than the sword, was at least the more honourable alternative.

Of course one would need the same easy talent with words as its author to say anything that would do it justice. Still, you go in knowing what you are getting, and the writing is sharp. There was no prose for prose sake, or lyrics over substance, yet his writing draws the reader in as though you were spending an evening listening to incisively funny repartee.