I was saddened to learn of the recent death of Gore Vidal, the author, playwright, essayist, and a large and important figure on the American literary landscape.
Vidal cut a wide swath and was astonishingly prolific; he was known for his keen wit, his acerbic comments, and his public feuds with other cultural figures of the ’60s and ’70s. He also was one of my favorite writers. He wrote four of my favorite novels — Burr, 1876, Creation, and Lincoln — and I have relished reading, and rereading, them to this day. I think I’ve read Creation about 10 times, and I would gladly begin reading it anew any time, any place.
Vidal had a knack for looking at the world from a different perspective that veered sharply away from conventional accounts of history; his willingness to articulate that viewpoint made his novels interesting and often hilarious. (His less-than-flattering depiction of George Washington in Burr, for example, is extremely funny and makes you feel guilty for chuckling at the Father of Our Country, all at the same time.)
Vidal’s flamboyant personality and taste for controversy often seemed to overshadow the fact that he was an extremely talented writer. He will be missed on the American literary landscape.