by Gore Vidal
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About the Author-
- Gore Vidal was born in 1925 at the United States Military Academy at West Point. His first novel, Williwaw, written when he was nineteen years old and serving in the Army, appeared in the spring of 1946. Since then he has written twenty-three novels, five plays, many screenplays, short stories, well over two hundred essays, and a memoir.Jay Parini (born 1948) is an American writer and academic. Among his works of fiction and criticism are The Last Station, John Steinbeck, and Benjamin's Crossing. Parini is Gore Vidal's literary executor and a regular contributor to various journals and newspapers, including The Chronicle of Higher Education and The Guardian (U.K.). In 1976, he cofounded New England Review, and he has taught at Middlebury College since 1982. He lives in Vermont.
Starred review from April 7, 2008
Vidal's daunting career has encompassed 24 novels, 11 essay collections, six plays, two memoirs and countless occasional writings. This new collection is an entry point into this literary giant's work for a new generation of readers, offering some of Vidal's most famous and entertaining essays from the past 50-odd years. Compiled and introduced by Parini (The Last Station
), Vidal's literary executor, the pieces range across Vidal's far-flung areas of expertise, resting most frequently and contentiously on literature and presidential politics of the past and present. His assessment of â€œThe Top Ten Bestsellersâ€ of January 7, 1973, is a savagely meticulous dissection of middlebrow American taste, while â€œAmerican Plasticâ€ tacks in the opposite direction, skewering the academy-approved, theory-based fiction of Donald Barthelme and William Gass with derisive glee. Vidal's comfort in puncturing conventional wisdom with his wit and analysis is fully displayed throughout, most notably in his discussion of the battle over the Kennedy legacy in â€œThe Holy Familyâ€ and the controversial â€œBlack Tuesday,â€ which condemns the Bush administration for its alleged imperial ambitions in the wake of September 11.
May 1, 2008
Parini, Gore Vidal's literary executor, has judiciously selected 21 of Vidal's essays from the 114 previously gathered in the unwieldy "United States: Essays 19521992", as well as added three more recent essays. Despite this drastic reduction in quantity, there is no corresponding loss in quality. Regardless of what one thinks of Vidal, what Vidal thinks is never in doubt in these 24 essays, divided here into two groups: literary criticism and historical or cultural commentary. His writing is clear, sharp, and disciplined, and his approbation of William Dean Howells and Italo Calvino are as finely tuned as his excoriation of John Updike and Herman Wouk. Vidal is the grandson of Democratic Sen. Thomas P. Gore and the son of Eugene Vidal, who worked for FDR, so one might assume he'd follow in their tradition. But, as these essays show, Vidal has little faith in the politicos of either party and suggests our country has become more oligarchy than democracy. If your library does not already have the aforementioned 1400-page behemoth, this slimmer volume would be an excellent choice.Anthony Pucci, Notre Dame H.S., Elmira, NY
Copyright 2008 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Gore Vidal is the master essayist of our age." --The Washington Post Book World"Vidal is the best all-around American man of letters since Edmund Wilson." --Newsweek "Wonderfully selected. . . . All classic Vidal essays are here. . . . [They] confirm Vidal's stature." --The Buffalo News"Gore Vidal, essayist; so good that we cannot do without him. He is a treasure of the state." --R.W.B. Lewis, The New York Times Book Review"Fearlessness and independence of mind are the strengths in this author's arms, but his heart's love is language and the richness of language."
PublisherKnopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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