Sunday, June 29, 2008

"I thought hell is bound to be a livlier place."

Gore Vidal just had a new collection of his essays come out. I've always been a fan of his as he usually winds up being proved right on issues of social mores and honest, if not a bit paranoid, on observing that America is truly an "Empire." He comes out against war, hypocrisy, and illiteracy with a stylish turn of phrase and I've always been a sucker for it. Yes, he can be a complete gasbag at times, too, but still more magnetic and informative to listen to than 99% of the talking heads you'll see on television offering opinions on the same subjects.

Check out this feisty interview (he's really rude to the reporter, frankly) where he mocks reviewers of his novels ("That's because they don't know how to read"), John McCain ("Who started this rumor that he was a war hero?"), and William F. Buckley ("I thought hell is bound to be a livelier place."). Okay, the novel observations I'll give them. I've only read 4 or 5 of them, including the under-appreciated "Myron," with the wonderful (albeit childish) conceit of replacing all the swear words with the names of Supreme Court justices to protest a ruling on obscenity that had come down around the time he was writing it. I'm not sure he's ever turned out a classic novel besides "Myra Breckenridge," but I plan to read more of them before I come to a decision. The essays, however, are classics. Pick up the new collection or go ahead and dive into the giant "United States" collection (which collected about 1/3rd of all essays he'd published between '42 to '92 in about 1300 pages). I've read probably 6 or 7 collections of his essays and still slowly chip my way through "United States." Always entertaining and informative. He's worth a read.

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