Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Gore Vidal, Sassy

In my recent reading I've finished a couple of essay collections - Maps and Legends by Michael Chabon and At Home by Gore Vidal. Chabon's collection is a mix of reflections and endorsements of some underloved fiction - comics, sci-fi etc. Vidal also lavishes a lot of love on authors he feels are underappreciated, and a lot of the content for both comes from the New York Review of Books, which just shows what a consistently excellent publication it's been over the decades.

But Chabon is, as he admits, a nice Jew whereas Gore is a verbose queer ex-pat has no fear of calling it as he sees it. He is merciless with the intellectual midgets at the time of writing (the'80s) and especially Reagan, who is referred to throughout as the acting president. One thing that really struck me was the final piece (well two pieces technically) where Vidal takes down the anal-retentive history critics, or scholar squirrels as he calls them, who nitpicked his novels Lincoln. His main points is basically -- Duh it's a novel, if a character seems ignorant or incorrect it's because this is a historical novel and character in a novel can't see the future and don't always have omnipotence. But it refreshing as a blogger to see someone do a long-form takedown, just as it's just refreshing as a critic to see someone write reviews with so much passion.

I'll leave you though with something a bit shorter if not sweeter, a confrontational little interview with him from last year. There's no doubt taht Vidal will be full of sass to the very end.


B.Graham said...

he's SO sassy! i never knew!

Najy said...

oh man. I just wrote an article about a max nova and for a second I thought I was missing something, like- how does he know jason in MD?

not the same person, but creepers.