(image via vanderbilt)
It is kind of hard to think about a United States of America without a Gore Vidal, its most educated critic and probably the wittiest essayist who ever scribbled in the English language. Born into American Old Money, Vidal, starting from the moment he wrote a book on homosexuality in postwar America, launched himself as the most literary gadfly against the bigotries of his class.
Vidal's life, which began at the hospital at West Point, spans one-third the length of the history of America. Gore Vidal is also, we cannot fail to note, our literary idol. And we have been steeling ourselves for the probability that he is probably not long for this world. Our other intellectual idols -- Miles Davis, Ingmar Bergman, Gurdjieff -- have already exited this vale of tears. But no matter how you cut it, when Vidal leaves the stage, we will be the lesser in his absence.
But he's still fiesty. Vidal's last memoir, Point to Point navigation, though hastily written contained some of his most emotional prose to date (who among us would consider Vidal "emotional"), especially on the subject of his last moments with his partner of 53 years, Howard Auster. And Gore still appears on televison -- though mostly European, which makes its way to youTube -- assailing the Republic that under Bush W began to look like an old European Empire. Now GV is finishing his literary time planet-side by filling in a hole in his American chronicles, the 1846-1948 period between his magestic historical novels Burr and Lincoln. From the salmon-colored weekly:
"On the one hand, it was announced that The Traveler, the picture book he wrote with his brother for Farrar, Straus & Giroux will be published in collaboration with Starbucks. On the other, he is probably worrying at least a little bit about his old boss, who according to the Associated Press fell down two weeks ago and fractured his spine.
"Mr. Vidal is fine, for the record, and told a reporter from his home in Los Angeles that he is barreling ahead with the novel he's writing about the Mexican-American war."