Thursday, May 31, 2007

Point to Point Navigation: a Memoir, 1964 to 2006
Palimpsest: a Memoir

by Gore Vidal

Unless you already have some familiarity with Gore Vidal, don't read Point to Point Navigation until you've read Palimpsest, which covers the earlier part of his life. Even having read the earlier memoir, as well as some of his fiction and essays, I still found this latest book a bit erratic and at times full-on confusing. (Give the guy a break, he's getting pretty old.) Anyone who enjoys reading memoirs will enjoy Palimpsest, but P to P is probably only going to appeal to hardcore Vidal-ophiles.

I read Palimpsest ages ago, at a time when I had zero interest in nonfiction. I really only picked it up because it had a picture of G.V.'s extremely handsome boarding-school boyfriend. Turns out Vidal's life is a fascinating mix of politics, old money, and show business. It helps, too, that he has a very sharp wit and isn't shy about speaking his mind. He was also, in his own way, a gay rights pioneer: he wasn't an activist, and he didn't "come out" publicly the way the famous do these days; he simply always was, unapologetically, who he was, one facet of which happened to be that he's gay.

Other books by Vidal that I've read include Myra Breckenridge and The Smithsonian Institution, both trashy-fun fiction (the latter actually has a paperback edition with a romance-style cover); I also read a collection of his essays, Dreaming War: Blood for Oil and the Cheney-Bush Junta. I wanna read more of his fiction, but there's so much other stuff to read too. Sigh.

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