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Point to Point Navigation

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  490 ratings  ·  73 reviews
From his desks in Ravello and the Hollywood Hills, Gore Vidal travels in memory through the arenas of literature, television, film, theatre, politics, and international society, where he has cut a broad swathe, recounting achievements and defeats, friends and enemies made.
Paperback, 277 pages
Published November 1st 2007 by Abacus Software (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
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....more
Pris robichaud

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...more
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
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...more
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
Jean Poulos
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
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.
Alannah Davis
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...more
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...more
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...more
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
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...more
Jerry Delaney
OK, it's Gore Vidal. You know exactly what you'll be getting and whether you will enjoy it or not. This is his last memoir and much of it is about death. The death of his partner Howard, of friends and literary rivals, and his own death, which he know will be soon. His reminiscences of Howard are often sweet, and it's clear how much he misses him. The wit is still there, the deep knowledge and the trenchant political views. Also still there is the need to take political statement one step too fa...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
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.
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
Mark Desrosiers
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...more
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...more
"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...more
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
Bookmarks Magazine

Literary celebrity, critic, and prolific author of many works, including the National Book Award?winning United States: Essays 1952-1992 and more than 20 novels, the octogenarian Gore Vidal keeps writing. Although critics unanimously point to the author's memoir Palimpsest (1995) as a masterpiece in the genre, they agree that the writing and much of the content in Point to Point Navigation pale beside the earlier effort. Reviewers take the avowed stylist to task for some lazy phrasing, though mo

Vidal starts with his views on the future of the novel which got me wondering about the future of memoirs. Since books like this are not usually converted to film, sadly, it may be the memoir that publishers drop from their lists.

Later in the book Vidal writes of Paul Bowles who's agent needs celebrity names and corresponding anecdotes in order to shop a memoir, which Bowles will reluctantly write. Celebrity anecdotes are not problem for Vidal, who has plenty of names (of both US and European ro...more
I had the opportunity to see GV speak to this book at the 92nd Street Y in NYC... and I'm glad I was there. For 30 years my friend Peter from Holland told me I should read Gore Vidal, and I never did, even though American history was one of my chosen topics for my final high school examination, not to mention, I ended up living there. The personal story is as important as his books and essays, for simply he lays it on the line in all of his books, and if you get into reading Gore Vidal as deeply...more
Steve Stegman
Snark, Snark, Snark oh how did I get through this?

Name dropping, opinion as fact and I was sexier, wittier and more brilliant than any of you people. It gets worse as the book goes on. In the end it is just a series of musings of people, places and things and his opinion on what did/didn't happen, who lied (usually republicans), and who told the truth (only people who told him how wonderful he was). It goes on and on and on and becomes almost unbearable at the end. Do I really care that Greta Ga...more
David Macpherson
Yikes. I think listening tothe audio book with Vidal reading it himself made it worse, which is incredible, because it was a disjointed mess that seemed to be written for the contract and advance and not for any need to create a good book. He never finished a thought. I don't mind jumping back and forth in time, but there needs to be an underlying thought. This was not a memoir, as much as Vidal going after his bad press and people he had bones to pick. The end was just the worse, where he quote...more
Oleg Kagan
Listening to Gore Vidal read from his second autobiography was like sitting with an aging celebrity on his patio and hearing him tell random stories about his past.

Point to Point Navigation only partially went in chronological order, that is, except when Mr. Vidal digressed to remember related or unrelated things and share his opinions, of which he has, to be sure, many.

Someone interested in Vidal's social set would be particularly drawn to this book, but I found it engaging besides. Anecdotes...more
Lisa Tangen
interesting. before I listened to the book, I didn't know much about him. odious is the first word that comes to mind esp. after hearing the book read by the author himself. still...the book was worth reading if only for filling in some gaps and getting different perspective
Al Maki
I think it's the only book of his that I've read that didn't work for me. I think he had lost his skill. Sad.
A sprawling and gossipy tour of Vidal's life, through literature, show business, and politics. (Hint: they are less different than one might expect.) Sometimes rambling, sometimes repetitive, sometimes incisive, sometimes heartbreaking.

Two things the audiobook gave me that I would not have had from the text version: Vidal's mimicry of the voices of his friends, from Tennessee Williams to Eleanor Roosevelt, and the utter pathos of listening to a man describe the slow death from cancer of his part...more
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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...more
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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.” 53 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.” 6 likes
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