by Gore Vidal


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This explosively entertaining memoir abounds in gossip, satire, historical apercus, and trenchant observations. Vidal's compelling narrative weaves back and forth in time, providing a whole view of the author's celebrated life, from his birth in 1925 to today, and features a cast of memorable characters—including the Kennedy family, Marlon Brando, Anais Nin, and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780140260892
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/01/1996
Pages: 448
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.46(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Gore Vidal (1925–2012) was born at the United States Military Academy at West Point. His first novel, Williwaw, written when he was 19 years old and serving in the army, appeared in the spring of 1946. He wrote 23 novels, five plays, many screenplays, short stories, well over 200 essays, and a memoir.


La Rondinaia, a villa in Ravello, Italy; and Los Angeles, California

Date of Birth:

October 3, 1925

Place of Birth:

West Point, New York


Attended St. Albans. Graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy, 1943. No college.

Table of Contents

The Small Bedroom at Merrywood
The Desire and the Successful Pursuit of the Whole
Briefly, Schools, War
"Today My Nerves Are Shattered. But I Am Indomitable!"
Dancers: An Interval
"Gene Collins"
Rome and the Glorious Bird
The Guest of the Blue Nuns
Paris, Proust's Whorehouse, Gide, Bowles, and Isherwood
London, E. M. Forster, as well as Friends-to-Be
"I Was the Last King-Emperor, You Know"
"Now You Owe Me a Dollar"
At Home on the Hudson in the Cold War
To Do Well What Should Not Be Done at All
London, Nina
The Twenty-ninth New York Congressional District
Thirteen Green Pages with Hindsight Added
Getting Out
Getting Back
Section: E Lot 293 (1/2), Subdivisions 2 and 4
Index 421

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Palimpsest: A Memoir 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
ehines on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Vidal has often been a bit too theatrical in his self-presentation--he can't help it seems than to push things a little too far (I'm thinking his later political writings, but you might also think of his tiff with Bill Buckley), and this makes many people take him less seriously than he really deserves to be treated.This is the first part of his memoirs and it is really good (far better than the second half). Good writing on being "gay" (Vidal thinks everyone's on a sliding scale sexually, so he doesn't appreciate absolutist sexual identities) and being privileged (but not rich) in the WWII and postwar era.Lots of interesting people pass through, but Vidal's not just namedropping.And of course lots of interesting (and disputable) observations about Washington and American politics.One of the best books of its kind that I've ever read.
figre on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I did not want to like this book. It holds all the worst of a memoir ¿ in particular that name-dropping approach that can get so tedious and the desire to go into occasionally excruciating detail over little things. But it is impossible to not like this book. In spite of sometimes lapsing into the errors that can befall any memoir, it has one redeeming quality ¿ it is written about Gore Vidal. Vidal brings his skills to bear telling the almost true story of his life. Up front he admits that any story based on memory will not be the absolute truth. Hence the name of the book (Palimpsest ¿ meaning parchment prepared for writing on and wiping off again.) This affectation gets overused and does not frame the book as well as the author may have liked. In particular, his use of the word to indicate where he may have rewritten passages (to either get them right or to ignore them). And the author constantly derides others for not being accurate in their memories while he openly (again, the name of the book) admits his memory cannot always be correct.But the book rises above these minor issues. Actually, the author rises above these issues. Because Vidal keeps us reading, even as we feel it may be a guilty pleasure. And just about the time I would start to think things were slowing down, he would shamelessly throw out another name (Kennedy, anyone? Anais Nin? Eleanor Roosevelt? Capote?) and drag me back in. At the end of it all ¿ an engrossing telling of Vidal¿s life the way Vidal remembers it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago