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An Essay Vidal Would Have Enjoyed
on August 18, 2012
So much has been written about Vidal through the years, and especially after he passed on this July. This essay is a true standout, though, and its engaging prose will edify Vidalophiles and newcomers to Vidal alike. Wolcott, naturally, refers to the oft-told stories of Vidal's public scrapes with the likes of Mailer and Buckley, but he does not dwell on them. Wolcott places Vidal in context, and makes the reader yearn for the days when David Susskind sat in a cloud of cigarette smoke on his show with the likes of Susan Sontag, and when Dick Cavett engaged his guests in discussions worth listening to. What I especially appreciate, in a goosebumpy kind of way, is Wolcott's deliberate refusal to immerse us in the products of Vidal's unfortunate mental decline toward the end of his life. This is not a fawning tribute; it is a fair one and one which Vidal himself would have appreciated.