Gore Vidal has received the National Book Award, written numerous novels, short stories, plays and essays. He has been a political activist and as Democratic candidate for Congress from upstate New York, he received the most votes of any Democrat in a half-century.
My familiarity with Gore Vidal's voluminous output is unfortunately very limited. Apart from the book which is to be reviewed shortly, I have read but four other novels. Yet most of them easily rank among my most unforgettable reading experiences. "Julian" (1964) and "Creation" (1981) are examples of superb historical fiction, not so much because they are well researched and well written, but because they make you look at the world from unusual points of view (Julian's apostasy and the Persian civilization, respectively) and thus stimulate you to question values you thought beyond reproach (the virtues of Christianity and the Athenian democracy, respectively). "Kalki" (1978) is a very different matter. It has been accurately described by the Time as "an apocalyptic extravaganza". It's a fascinating and shattering novel, crowned with one of the most chilling conclusions I have ever read. It is sad to say, but Myra Breckinridge (1968) turned out to be very much like "Live from Golgotha" (1992): lame satire, deplorably written, mercifully short.
Before going any further, two important points. First, be aware, should you care, that the following review is rife with spoilers. Second, since this is a pornographic novel, be also aware that this, naturally, is going to be a pornographic review. Gore's prose is almost Victorian in its passion for decency, but I am afraid mine is not.
I have read with interest the writings of reviewers who claim that the book is magnificently written and extremely amusing; also very superficial on the surface but actually providing a lot of food for thought.Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?