Some of you have been generous enough to inform me, here or on Facebook or at Twitter, that you do not share my esteem for the writings of
Gore Vidal. You perhaps do not care for his politics or his prose style or his morality or his person. Perhaps his patrician hauteur irritates you; I'm sure that he would have wanted it that way.
That's as it should be, rather than the bland, stagnant world we would live in if all our tastes agreed. That said, I'm about to quote him, so clear out. Everyone else can stay.
It's a good thing to stand at the grave of Samuel Johnson in
Westminster Abbey or to read the plaque on the house on Park Avenue in Baltimore where F. Scott Fitzgerald lived while writing Tender is the Night. But the best way to honor a writer is not by plaques or monuments but by reading the work the hand composed. I have, as I wrote the other day, been reading and re-reading Gore Vidal's work for four decades (not, mind you, uncritically or finding every scrap of equal value). Today, since writers should be read, I offer you a paragraph from an essay he wrote thirty or so years ago about another American original, Edmund Wilson. Linking Wilson with Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Faulkner, he wrote: