Gore Vidal, 1925-2012

Writer, analyst, and eloquent opinionator Gore Vidal died today. He was 86. The LA Times reports that he died Tuesday in his Hollywood Hills home, from complications related to pneumonia.

In his lifetime, Vidal received the National Book Award, wrote many novels, short stories, plays and essays. He was a political activist, and received the most votes of any Democrat in more than 50 years when he ran as a Democratic candidate for Congress in upstate New York. Vidal's The City and the Pillar was one of the first American novels to present homosexuality in a direct manner, and outraged many at the time.

Above, his epic 1968 debate with noted dirtbag William Buckley, in which he tells Buckley to "shut up," and calls him a "cryptonazi."

Vidal was a literary juggernaut who wrote 25 novels, including historical works such as “Lincoln” and “Burr” and satires such as “Myra Breckinridge” and “Duluth.” He was also a prolific essayist whose pieces on politics, sexuality, religion and literature -- once described as “elegantly sustained demolition derbies” -- both delighted and inflamed and in 1993 earned him a National Book Award for his massive “United States Essays, 1952-1992.”

Threaded throughout his pieces are anecdotes about his famous friends and foes, who included Anais Nin, Tennessee Williams, Christopher Isherwood, Orson Welles, Truman Capote, Frank Sinatra, Jack Kerouac, Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Eleanor Roosevelt and a variety of Kennedys. He counted Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Al Gore among his relatives.

He also wrote Broadway hits, screenplays, television dramas and a trio of mysteries under a pseudonym that remain in print after 50 years.

Writer Gore Vidal, 86, has died (LAT)

Here's an Associated Press obit.

Here's an extensive fan-site with an index of his works.

Below, another classic television moment with Vidal, vs. Norman Mailer.


  1. RIP Gore Vidal. He was among the very last of a special race of American thinkers.
    Here is one of his best remarks!
    Gore Vidal verbally thrashing Stephen Sackur of the BBC’s HARDtalk, Exposing his ignorance and skewering those who deserve it, as usual. The full interview is well worth watching, and should be for context.

    1. Thrashing isn’t really the word. HARDtalk is a devil’s advocate sort of show, and either has morons on the back foot, or gives the clever a good podium to rant.

  2. I should hope to live to see the day I might use the slur ‘cryptonazi’ in such an appropriate context.

    1. William Buckley was a smug lying piece of shit.  Though I do love his quick witted answer here:

      A young man, “voice breaking with emotion” asks, “Mr. Buckley …. have you ever gone hungry?”

      Buckley responded “Why, yes, my yacht experienced an unfortunate shortage of stuffed goose recently between Nassau and the Bahamas.”

  3. I first read Myron when I was about 15. Despite starting with the sequel, the book blew my mind. Not only did the plot make Alice in Wonderland read like a routine trip to the local supermarket, the clever use of replacing ‘dirty words’ with names of pornography censorship campaigners was an act of whizzer white burgering genius.

  4. One of my friends recently said that in the first issue of Playboy he ever saw 30 years ago was an interview with Gore Vidal, and he opens a recent issue and there was Gore Vidal again.

    1. He first came to my attention as a young lad perusing my old man’s Playboys; I’m afraid the imminent death of printed porn will take a lot of journalism with it… such mags seem to have been quite the haven for good writing: I seem to recall a lot of great stuff in Penthouse and Hustler as well.

  5. Mr.Vidal said things most Americans (and it seems British tv hosts) don’t want to hear, but he spoke the truth.

  6. Buckley growling, “I’ll sock your face in” is priceless, the twit. And for all those who look at Buckley as the Golden Age of the GOP, it was just as disgusting then as it is now, but their grasp of the language was better .

      1.  He was the best the right has ever had to offer.  Calling him dirtbag is absolutely wrong.  Crypto-Nazi is fair, but not dirtbag. 

        1. Let’s see, he supported Mcarthyism, Francisco Franco, and Augusto Pinochet, and he isn’t a dirtbag?

          Support for virulently nasty (so long as they are anti-communist) fascists isn’t exactly atypical in American circles; but that hardly makes it any less tasteless. 

  7. Or that he committed and nearly got away with murder in a dystopian, genetically obsessed near-future.

    Or that he’s probably kissed more boys than Lisa Simpson.

    (Say, he was pretty good at making himself the object of pop-culture references, wasn’t he? Not bad for an intellectual!)

  8. “I knew there was an inner ring! I bet they make jokes about the Atkins diet and do prank calls to Gore Vidal in Esperanto”. Via Peep Show.

    Vale GV. Time to re-read Myra Breckingridge.

  9. Aw, man.  I was a little boy when I sat next to my dad and watched Vidal and Buckley debate, during the Democratic Convention in my town.

    It was one of the first times I realized how cool it was to be smart.  But even then I could tell that William Buckley was an asshat and that Gore Vidal was a bad ass.  Plus I thought having the first name “Gore” was totally great.

    1.  He supported the Vietnam War, forced tatooing of homosexuals with HIV, apartheid, McCarthy, Franco, Pinochet.  “Dirtbag” is a little juvenile I agree, but “crypto-Nazi” is clearly spot-on.

  10. Intellectually, few of us could carry Mr Buckley’s dirt or bag. Nor Mr Vidal’s for that matter. Indeed!

  11. Just been listening to some past interviews of Gore Vidal. He was sharp and engaging, drawing plenty of parallels between foreign policy mistakes of the past and now. A great thinker. RIP.

    1. A shame it cut off when it did… Mailer was dying a thousand deaths by then, very entertaining.

      It appears telly used to be a lot more interesting.

      1. Mailer was dying a thousand deaths by then

        Possibly proctitis due to having his own ego folded up five ways and shoved where the moon don’t shine.

  12. I haven’t read nearly enough, but some of his historical fiction is stunning.  ‘Creation,’ narrated by a 5th century Persian diplomat, is impossible to put down. ‘Burr’ is a fantastically great chronicle of that period of American political culture.

    1. +1 for Creation.  It’s not as politically relevant as The City And The Pillar or Myra Breckenridge were, but it is a masterpiece.  It’s long, but it’s one of those books you wish was longer.  His whole American political family series is good, too.  

  13. A great mind, a great guy. You will be missed, may your journey to Valhalla be swift, and may your star shine just as bright. 

  14. Gore Vidal was one in all my idols growing up.  It seemed like he could do something, and do it with therefore much style.  I counted nowadays and I actually have read thirteen of his books.  I loved all of his American chronicles and also the two plays (“The Best Man” and “Visit to a Small Planet” — made into a movie, with of all folks, Jerry Lewis) and “City & Pillar” and “Myra Breckinridge” and “Julian,” but I’d say my favorite novel is “Washington, D.C.,” which has some superb set items I can still keep in mind over forty years later, like this one, which I started to describe however then I remembered Gloria Steinem once noticed it too:

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