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Point to Point Navigation: A Memoir

3.72  ·  Rating Details ·  666 Ratings  ·  98 Reviews
In a witty and elegant autobiography that takes up where his bestelling Palimpsest left off, the celebrated novelist, essayist, critic, and controversialist Gore Vidal reflects on his remarkable life.Writing from his desks in Ravello and the Hollywood Hills, Vidal travels in memory through the arenas of literature, television, film, theatre, politics, and international soc ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published October 9th 2007 by Vintage (first published 2006)
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MJ Nicholls
Disappointerissimo. This memoir is meant to cover Gore’s life from 1968-2006, but unlike its predecessor Palimpsest, fails to offer an entertaining and comprehensive account of the Great Wit’s activities during these four pregnant decades. First off, the chapters are unpardonably bitesize—lacking in detail and conversational digressionism familiar to Gorehounds—and second off, Gore discusses his childhood at length (heard it!) and, seemingly, whatever interests him at the moment of writing. The ...more
Kevin Cole
Mar 13, 2015 Kevin Cole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shortly after my 22nd birthday, I sat in an old armchair in my pie-sliced college apartment and started reading a novel called Myra Breckinridge by someone named Gore Vidal. I'd heard about this book for years. Supposedly, it was outrageous. Time to see for myself.

By the third page, I was a Vidal fan for life.

The transformation was that sudden, that complete.

Prior to Vidal, I'd read a lot of what I call "emotional crap," fiction that wasn't necessarily bad, but which did exercise the heart more
Palimpsest, for all Vidal's narcissism, was an achievement in autobiography, a genre generally to be avoided. For a man I'm inclined to think of as exceptionally cold it was lyrical and warm, surprisingly frank on the heart, and well structured. He didn't feel compelled to tell us all - self aware enough to edit even life for the good bits.

But this. If you rate Vidal, best not read it.

The voice is still there, the wonderfully shaded irony, his acidic cutting through spin in commentary on events.
Pris robichaud
Jan 04, 2009 Pris robichaud rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Between Obituaries, 10 Dec 2006

"No other writer has peered so intently under the hood of American Society. None can match his uncanny gift for "telling us what we want to know' about public life, including politics, theatre and the movies. His new book is sad, spotty chronicle that would suggest Gore is stuck in a fog from a dwindling set of landmarks. Vidal's' imagination has always been able to get into the past" James
None of us know much about Vidal Gore, he likes it that way. His two memoi
Nov 07, 2016 Richard rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A tiresome, meandering autobiography that should only be read by those who already know everything about Vidal and just want to wade in it, as this does little to explore anything new or interesting to those coming from the outside.

Still, Vidal is always entertaining to read, no matter what the content.
Luke Devenish
Crazy old Gore: as arch as two bastards and drier than a wooden god. He's a loss to us. He was right to call this a 'memoir', for in little way is it an autobiography, really, in the expected sense. Only the tiniest snippets of his life are (re)arranged for us here, in idiosyncratic order, while the rest remains firmly behind locked doors, you rather feel. Yet this is a witty read - most of the morsels are pretty delicious. The Barbara Cartland in Bangkok story has stuck in my memory, as has Jac ...more
Oct 22, 2007 Claire rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow. I mean, wow. If I could be Gore Vidal for a day, I could die happy. I can't think of any other person who has been at the center of politics, academia, literature, hollywood and pop culture for the last five decades and certainly no one who can write as well as he. It was an enjoyable read because of the anecdotes, the digs about modern America, and the (lack of) organization -- it zig-zagged like a conversation, where one point or person makes him think of something else and suddenly you'r ...more
Jan 10, 2012 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A melancholy end to Vidal's long writing career. A sequel of sorts to Palimpsest it is part autoboigraphy, part memoir with some wonderful chapters on his friendships with Tennessee Williams and Paul Bowles amongst others, part gossip (a very funny piece about Barbara Cartland and a touching and revealing one about Princess Margaret), part state of the nation address and a valedictory correction to the many false myths and poor biographies about him.

Most moving of all are the chapters about his
Dec 12, 2008 Gail rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs, 2008
Vidal continues, sort of, where he left off in Palimpsest. His writing is as always biting, occasionally cruel, and quite funny. It's always interesting to get an "inside" version of some of the movers and shakers of our recent past.

A previous reviewer mentioned that this book jumps around. Yes, it does. The title and the forward explain that Vidal uses one person, idea, or event to lead to another, gently wandering through the past.

This starts a bit slowly; I thought, "Oh no, Gore has finally s
Alannah Davis
Aug 06, 2012 Alannah Davis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wrote a full review, but when I tried to post it, it was somehow absorbed by the internet gremlins. Argh. So here is another try.

"Point to Point Navigation" was sent to me by a friend with whom I exchange books that we have read and feel the other might enjoy (or challenge the other to enjoy!). Before she sent me this book, I had no sense of Gore Vidal other than as a famous novelist, politician, and sometime actor whose literary work with whom I was not familiar. I do have a memory of seeing
Feb 26, 2009 Jill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I became interested in Gore Vidal when Barry and I stayed at Hotel Palumbo in Ravello and I saw Vidal's villa perched on a cliff overlooking the gulf of Amalfi.
I am amazed at how much I have in common with an 83 year old gay man from a prominent southern political family. I obviously don't agree with everything Gore believes but I love the way he has lived his life.
His writing is full of references to great writers and philosophers from history, many of who he has known.
His vocabulary is exten
Jul 07, 2012 Donna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This is the 2nd time I’ve listened and read him. His voice and words captivate me. His wit and observations command my attention. I feel what I call his pedigree…for lack of better word is amazing too…His grandfather was a senator, his father the founder of two airlines…his family and their friends were all the major players of his time….Amelia Earhart, the Roosevelts, politicians, show biz …a cousin to Jackie Kennedy. He also ran for office and even beat Jack K…in a race somewhere…. I’m compell ...more
Oct 11, 2010 Dan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this to be a fascinating book. I listened to the audio version read by the author which made it even better because of the accents and because there was no doubt when he was being ironic. He has been everywhere and done everything and is related to all kinds of people. He also has a very amusing, and unfortunately true, outlook on American politics.
Definitely worth listening to. It is semi-episodic and jumps around in time so it lends itself to listening in short snatches like a commute
Jun 22, 2012 Vicki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The most touching thing about this book is his description of the loss of his partner of 50 years. He handles the loss in the simplest and most heart-renchingly exposed way - it's a short scene worth reading the entire book just to encounter.
Jul 29, 2011 Sarah rated it liked it
Only for the hardcore Gore Vidal fan. (me) Half of the book is his trying to get even with his critics - and that part gets old fast. If you're reading the book, your already on his side. The other half is the story of the death of his life partner which I thought was beautifully written.
Sue Davidson
I listened to the author read this memoir. Very narcissistic man. I have never read his books but have heard of him so was interested to find out a little about him. I don't think I will bother with any of his books.
Chiefdonkey Bradey
Urbane truth speaker of the American Empire
May 18, 2017 Usain rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
"Money is now a Great Wall of China separating American rich from poor, a division that is beginning to seem as eternal as the Great Wall itself." Deze opmerking, te samen met veel andere scherpe observaties en 'bon mots' over politiek, schrijverij, kunst, vrienden, vijanden, randfiguren, maken deze memoires van Gore Vidal bijzonder interessant. Vidal is geboren uit en leefde te midden van een heel gezelschap dat er toe deed in het naoorlogse Amerika tot zijn dood in 2006. Zijn ironie en eruditi ...more
Lulwah Ayoub
Incoherent writing with the one aim of name-dropping.
Karl H.
There's no two ways about it, this book reads like left-overs. Vidal's previous memoir Palimpsest is critically acclaimed, and though I haven't read it, one feels as though Vidal is carefully weaving around more important material he likely covered in that book. Vidal carefully avoids writing about topics TOO close to him. For instance, we never get a sense of what caused the falling out between him and his mother. He points to his mother's rejection of his partner, another enigma, but the whole ...more
Jean Poulos
Jul 13, 2014 Jean Poulos rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Listening to this memoir by Gore Vidal, I had the feeling I was spending the afternoon with an elderly man listening to his stories. A few years ago I had read a biography of General Robert Olds who in 1942 married Nina Gore Auchincloss. Gore Vidal’s famous actress mother. I like it when information in one book I read shows up in another book I am reading. Vidal came from a famous family. His father was a military pilot who in civilian life started three airlines, TWA, Eastern and Northwestern. ...more
Jan 27, 2015 Rj rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Over the past few days I have had the pleasure of being transported by the extraordinary literary craftmanship of Gore Vidal. His most recent memoir, Point to Point Navigation follows in the tradition of his early memoir, culling his memory for events in American and world history that he and his ego have managed in some way to be remembered as related to. The text is brief and driven by style that is filled with clarity, intelligence and style that is seldom seen in modern day writers. Although ...more
Mark Desrosiers
Jun 21, 2008 Mark Desrosiers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
Maybe not quite as epic and deep (and much thinner) than his first memoir, Palimpsest, this still had me hooked from beginning to end. On top of the usual droll and witty rants, he offers us some wonderful anecdotes about, y'know, Grace Kelly, Huey Long, Princess Margaret (he calls her "PM", LOL), Tennessee Williams , Johnny Carson, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rudolf Nureyev, etc... The reason some of these stories didn't appear in Palimpsest was very simple: the protagonists weren't dead yet.

Which lead
Jul 10, 2007 Kirsten rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
"if the mention of the people whom i have glimpsed on my way past them lacks precision in describing them, it is only because i never really saw them or thought about them, since for me they were manipulable objects to be used or somehow got around, in order to continue my trajectory."

"it has been my experience that writers, myself included, often forget what they have written since the act of writing is simply a letting go of a piece of one's own mind, and so there is a kind of mental erasure a
Andrew Johnson
Oct 15, 2016 Andrew Johnson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gore Vidal had a quite "Forest Gump" lifestyle,, well according to him. Even though I heard little about him and have not read any of his novels, or plays, he has been an outspoken, and perhaps controversial figure in American history. He served in World War II in the Aleutians, which is where the term of the title comes from. This book is a memoir, which is his second since writing Palimpsest decades ago. This particular memoir was entertaining on many occasions and then I felt like just strung ...more
Don Weidinger
sex as distorted by church school movie, thirst to be an actor, knew French Rev from movies, a revolution could and would happen here, Sen Gore abstain on social security vote, narcissist meaning curious w/o humility, fbi informer Reagan, cannot get political theme in movies, simple minded Cappra, Carson if you ever have doubt of line don’t say it, dem liberal candidate, 83% Vietnam 72% Iraq, united states of amnesia, Nixon spoke subconscious, FDR wife Eleanor not like Kennedys people are what t ...more
This isn't a chronological biography or memoir but really just a collection of mostly short chapters with Vidal telling various and often funny anecdotes about writers such as Truman Capote and Tennessee (The Bird) Williams and other famous people such as Rudolph Nureyev and Princess Margaret. I listened to the audiobook version which has the added benefit of Vidal doing his Capote and Williams imitation voices and that of others such as Jack Kennedy.

It seemed to jump the shark when the climax
Aug 15, 2014 Patricia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
I have spent the last few months reading and listening to Gore Vidal and I have loved every minute. He is an intellectual force to be reckoned with, clever, sometimes bitter often wicked and hugely entertaining. This last volume of his memoirs is sadder and less vibrant. He is surrounded by friends who are dying among them his long time partner Howard Auster. He describes Howard's death in his usual exact and almost clinical way but the emotion is just under the surface and there is clearly a bi ...more
Aug 21, 2012 Ob-jonny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Entertaining autobiography of Gore Vidal. This is a guy who's had an interesting life. He knew many interesting famous people from the middle 20th century. As a teenager he was an step-brother of Jackie Kennedy and he was close to the Kennedy family. He has an interesting and plausible take on what really happened with the JFK assassination. He has so many interesting observations about politics and American culture going back 80 years. He actually interacted with Huey Long as a little kid becau ...more
Jul 24, 2007 Bob rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you're going to read Vidal's memoirs (and you should certainly consider it), start with Palimpsest, the earlier volume, which follows a more conventional autobiographical chronology and structure through the first 39 years of his life.
Point To Point Navigation is rather loose and rambling and repeats a lot from the earlier book - the death of Howard Austen is in many ways its crux, but I still feel like I scarcely know him ("knowing" only in the sense that one can know anyone solely through r
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Eugene Luther Gore Vidal was an American writer known for his essays, novels, screenplays, and Broadway plays. He was also known for his patrician manner, Transatlantic accent, and witty aphorisms. Vidal came from a distinguished political lineage; his grandfather was the senator Thomas Gore, and he later became a relation (through marriage) to Jacqueline Kennedy.

Vidal ran for political office twi
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“[Professor] Frank recalled my idle remark some years ago: 'Never pass up the opportunity to have sex or appear on television.' Advice I would never give today in the age of AIDS and its television equivalent Fox News.” 67 likes
“A current pejorative adjective is narcissistic. Generally, a narcissist is anyone better looking than you are, but lately the adective is often applied to those "liberals" who prefer to improve the lives of others rather than exploit them. Apparently, a concern for others is self-love at its least attractive, while greed is now a sign of the hightest altruism. But then to reverse, periodically, the meanings of words is a very small price to pay for our vast freedom not only to conform but to consume.” 11 likes
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