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Comprising more than 100 of Vidal's inimitable pieces, this National Book Award winner features the author's choice of the essays that he has written over a period of 40 years--a definitive guide to post-war America. Index.
Posted October 21, 2012
Gore Vidal was the only postwar writer capable of teasing out American insecurities about its place in the world from almost every subject. It would be enough to make him a great writer if he had 'simply' written about art, or politics, or the great people he had known, but in this collection it's all three and then some. If you've read the product description or any of Vidal's essays, you won't need me to tell you how diverse his topics of interest are, or how well-versed he is in writing about all of them. This is a canon of Vidal's essays if there will ever be one, and it wisely ends before the 21st century, when the great man was clearly in decline. These aren't essays like you'll read in some online rags today. They are long, thoughtful pieces, each referencing many facets of life and Americana. Multiple political party conventions are analyzed. Monotheism meets its unmaker. His contemporaries are, of course, turned inside out and occasionally chewed up and tossed away like a pet's toy. Vidal has the almost enviable gift of writing about anything for an indefinite length of time. These essays will take longer to read than today's ten minute, single topic simple screeds, and in most cases they must be read several times just to pick up threads that were missed earlier when your hands were already full. Vidal has recently left us, but the dense yet enjoyable scribblings of this 20th century master will continue to inspire those few brave 21st century Americans who dare to tackle this brick.
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