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Thursday, August 2, 2012

When Literary Lions Still Prowled

I never read Gore Vidal. He wasn't my novelist. He was my mothers. She had his books in her bookcases in Baltimore along with Hemingway and Virginia Woolfe and Anais Nin and Styron and Faulkner. We were from Virginia and settled in Baltimore City and my mother was a feminist so Gore Vidal satisfied her yearning for the old and the new. I heard of Gore Vidal and saw him interviewed once saying he was an Ancestral Totem now. Whatever that meant. But my thought was... what a pompous ass.

Of course he was. And brilliant. Riding that Truman Copote wave where novelists were still celebrities. I suppose many still are they just don't stand out the way they used to before everyone was a celebrity. And now Gore Vidal has passed. And I would think my mother would have registered this as another from her era (though he was older than my mother) going into the great beyond. Gore himself said the American novel was dead as was America. You cant blame him. The world of the novelist had mostly vanished.

And there was a time when the novel was pre eminent. And that was Gores time. Hemingway was still kicking around and while Vidal was not a Hemingway figure, he himself enjoyed that kind of celebrity as the celebrated literary man. But of course everyone knows this and now we are left with just one less from the age when the written word was still king. Like John Updike and Saul Bellow, Gore Vidal represented more than just a body of work...he represented an age when Literary Lions still prowled.

Books by William Hazelgrove