Gore Vidal doesn’t let a little thing like death get in the way of his grudges, says Robert Chalmers in the London Independent. The 82-year-old author has had many high-profile feuds over the years, and he seems to have kept several of them alive—even if his enemies are not. Having once famously labeled the late conservative icon William F. Buckley Jr. “a crypto-Nazi,” Vidal now says he thinks of him more as “Hitler without the charm.” Of his deceased rival Norman Mailer, Vidal recalls: “If I was on the cover of Time and he wasn’t, my God, he would be insulting me in the press. He lived for his little swig of PR.” As for Truman Capote, the less said, the better. “Capote I truly loathed,” Vidal says. “The way you might loathe an animal. A filthy animal that has found its way into the house.” But Vidal reserves the most bile for his own mother, Nina, whom he remembers as an abusive alcoholic. “She was just atrocious. Everybody who knew her hated her.” Years ago, after she began referring to Vidal as her “pansy son” and to his companion Howard Austen as “his Jew boyfriend,” Vidal vowed never to speak to her again. When she died in 1978, they hadn’t been in touch for 21 years, and Vidal did not attend her funeral. “Why would I do that?” he asks. “I don’t go to the funerals of people I like.”
Vidal’s enduring grudges
June 16, 2008
Try 4 Risk-Free Issues of The Week magazine.