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A Conversation With Gore Vidal

November 2, 2009

by John Meroney
from The Atlantic

At age 83, Gore Vidal remains a sharp provocateur, as irascible and irreverent as ever.

Snapshots in History’s Glare, a new memoir by Vidal released this month, renews interest in this American literary and cultural icon—offering readers a pictorial look at his singular life, from his youth in the political and social circles of Washington, to his service in World War II, his expat years in Guatemala and Europe, his emergence as a major novelist, his decades writing scripts in Hollywood, his forays into politics, his infamous feud with William F. Buckley Jr., and his friendships with Eleanor Roosevelt, JFK, and Tennessee Williams, among others. The book concludes with photos of his future burial plot beside his longtime companion, Howard Auster, at D.C.’s Rock Creek Cemetery.

Eager for his thoughts on Obama’s presidency and a range of other topics, I caught up with Vidal twice this month at his home in Hollywood. (The first time, he sported a varsity-football-style jacket, bearing patches of the characters from The Simpsons, on which he once made a guest appearance.)

Our conversation ranged widely, covering everything from Ted Kennedy, to the Polanski scandal, to the sexual exploits of Bill Clinton, and the relative merits of Obama vs. Hillary. Throughout, Vidal’s devastating trademark wit was much in evidence, as was an impressive ability to perform dead-on imitations of JFK and Eleanor Roosevelt.

A condensed transcript of our conversation follows.


You  said earlier this month that you now wish you had supported Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries instead of Barack Obama. You said that she would make a better president.
Well, I was in a thoughtful mood. more

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