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The Selected Essays of Gore Vidal Hardcover – June 17, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Vidal's daunting career has encompassed 24 novels, 11 essay collections, six plays, two memoirs and countless occasional writings. This new collection is an entry point into this literary giant's work for a new generation of readers, offering some of Vidal's most famous and entertaining essays from the past 50-odd years. Compiled and introduced by Parini (The Last Station), Vidal's literary executor, the pieces range across Vidal's far-flung areas of expertise, resting most frequently and contentiously on literature and presidential politics of the past and present. His assessment of The Top Ten Bestsellers of January 7, 1973, is a savagely meticulous dissection of middlebrow American taste, while American Plastic tacks in the opposite direction, skewering the academy-approved, theory-based fiction of Donald Barthelme and William Gass with derisive glee. Vidal's comfort in puncturing conventional wisdom with his wit and analysis is fully displayed throughout, most notably in his discussion of the battle over the Kennedy legacy in The Holy Family and the controversial Black Tuesday, which condemns the Bush administration for its alleged imperial ambitions in the wake of September 11. (June 17)
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"In 114 essays written over a period of forty years, Gore Vidal has shown himself to be a masterly, learned, and percipient observer of an unparalleled range of subjects. United States: Essays, 1952–1992 assesses such diverse matters as modern French fiction, the Kennedys, underappreciated writers like Thomas Love Peacock, and the American attitude toward sex. He writes tenderly of authors and people he cherishes—Eleanor Roosevelt, Tennessee Williams, William Dean Howells. Whatever his subject, he addresses it with an artist's resonant appreciation, a scholar's conscience, and the persuasive powers of a great essayist."—Citation for the 1993 National Book Award
“Vidal is the best all-around American man of letters since Edmund Wilson.” —Newsweek
“Gore Vidal, essayist; so good that we cannot do without him. He is a treasure of the state.”—R.W.B. Lewis, New York Times Book Review
“Gore Vidal is the master essayist of our age, and we should thank the gods that we still have him to kick us around. Long may he flourish.”—Michael Dirda, Washington Post Book World
“The century’s finest essayist.”—Jonathan Keates, The Spectator
“Indispensable . . . An excellent read . . . Provocateur, scholar, historian, novelist, scoundrel, whatever you want to call Gore Vidal, make sure you include ‘national treasure’ . . . [He] is an original mind, who thinks and sees without regard to convention. That alone makes him required reading.” —Sunday Oregonian
“Vidal has always had title to being among the most fluently entertaining of American essayists. I think it can now be seen that he is among the most substantial . . . There is often room to disagree with Vidal. But there is no room at all for denying that he is a superlative essayist, whose elegant concision is a gage thrown down to everyone else in the field.”—Clive James, The Observer
“Some of the most courageous, liveliest, and wittiest commentary on literature, the theater and social life that has been written in America.”—Philip Rahv
“The American tradition of independent and curious learning is kept alive in the wit and great expressiveness of Gore Vidal’s criticism.”—National Book Critics Circle for The Second American Revolution
“Gore Vidal is that rare thing, a wit who thinks in paragraphs.” —Kenneth Tynan
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but even then, the writing is superb and in terms of a collection of essays,
in terms of depth and breadth, there is no one out there nearly
comparable. But the reader should do themselves a favor and read one
of the expanded collections; we much that is good has been by necessity
left out of the Selected Essays...