Last week in the news was the passing of author Gore Vidal. I have never read any of his works, but knew of him from interviews and documentaries. When I was a girl, I remembered him on the Dick Cavett Show in a tweed jacket, speaking in a deep and somber tone of complicated issues that my young brain couldn’t comprehend. It added to his mystique. When I got older, my opinion was his appearance on a show added validity to the topic; he seemed to have such a self assured air about him. Also, I always liked the way his name sounded—Gore Vidal had an intellectual ring to it.
Recently, I read an article and one of the take aways was Vidal was upset most of his professional life by the fact that he wasn’t as commercially well known as Norman Mailer nor Truman Capote and felt overshadowed by them. My head snapped up—I was amazed that his brilliant man was actually jealous of other writers!
What a wasted energy jealousy is—here was Vidal a renowned and thought-provoking author plagued by envy to the end. After reading the article, it made me realize that the man I always thought was on a higher mental plane of intelligence was surprisingly human after all.
From my perspective, each of these writers held a piece of their own brilliance in their own light. Also their personalities were so different and distinct, there’s no way a person could mix them up—Mailer gruff and no nonsense, Capote flamboyant and witty, Vidal brooding and ponderous. Each of these men added significantly to the American literary landscape. I was saddened to think Vidal was always in fierce competition with them to be the Most Well Know American Writer. To me, that mantle has an abundant amount of room for many more writers.