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Notebook

September 2012

Gore Vidal, 1925–2012

by John Simon

On the passing of the writer.

This is not a regular obituary, but then again, Gore Vidal was not a regular guy. Instead, he was a heady cocktail: one-third talent, one-third wit, and one-third arrogance. He was also a somewhat better-than-average novelist, interesting playwright and screenwriter, and a noteworthy essayist. A man of letters, certainly, and, no less certainly, a star.

What does star mean in this context? Besides literary aptitude, it means he was a vivid presence on the cultural horizon. Someone whom perhaps relatively few have read, but whom, from frequent TV/span> appearances, a great many can recognize, and even, grudgingly or not, admire.

Admire for what? For personality, outspokenness, repartee, and cheek. And, unlike so many successful writers, he was good-looking. But not like, say, Norman Mailer, with his slightly disheveled, vaguely street corner-ish ...

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John Simon's collections of film, theater, and music criticism are available from Applause.


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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 31 September 2012, on page 78

Copyright © 2014 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com

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