Remembering Gore Vidal, writer and playwright 1925 – 2012

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Gore Vidal

Gore Vidal author and playwright died Tuesday at his Hollywood Hills home from complications due to pneumonia. Bookworm host Michael Silverblatt writes:

When I learned of the death of Gore Vidal last night, the painful memories that flooded me were immediate, but there was also the memory of affection and humor. I saw myself twenty years ago, a frantic and terrified young interviewer pacing awkwardly in a Beverly Hills Hotel hallway, outside Gore Vidal’s room, waiting to meet Him.

Gore Vidal, the novelist, essayist, playwright, screenwriter, and talk-show regular. Gore Vidal, easily the most articulate of his generation who could make John Updike, Truman Capote and even Susan Sontag cower. Gore Vidal who had answered so shatteringly so many questions from broken journalists in what he called book-chat land, Gore Vidal who had traded blows with Norman Mailerand icily eyed William F. Buckley who had called him a queer on television, what would Gore Vidal do with this radio man, this Silverblatt, this me? Maybe eat me for breakfast. Maybe bite my head off.

Read Silverblatt’s full remembrance of Vidal, here. 

Vidal, who wrote 24 novels, five plays and more than two hundred essays, appeared on various KCRW shows throughout the years. An archive of those interviews is here. Interviews with KCRW’s “Bookworm” can be found here. The writer famously fought with William F. Buckley while both men served as analysts for ABC news.  You can watch them trade verbal blows over US policy in Vietnam below.

And then there’s this clip from a 1971 episode of The Dick Cavett Showduring which Gore and Norman Mailer trade barbs over a bad review that Vidal had written of Mailer’s “The Prisoner of Sex.” “We all know I stabbed my wife a few years ago, says Mailer upset, “you were playing on that, Gore.”

Vidal appeared on KCRW’s To the Point and Bookworm many times, most recently in 2007 talking about his memoir “Point to Point Navigation.” Listen to that interview here:

In 2004 Warren talked to Vidal about his book, “Inventing a Nation”, and the disenfranchisement of Washington DC and the nation. He said: “You know we talk a lot about democracy, but always remember that the word democracy never appears in the constitution of the United States. The founders did not want tyranny, they did not want a dictator and they did not want majority rule, hence the electoral college to make sure the people’s will is never recognized in a presidential election.”