MJ Nicholls's Reviews > The City and the Pillar
The City and the Pillar
by Gore Vidal
by Gore Vidal
So few of my GR friends have read this and other Gore Vidal classics, I have to pose the question: where does Vidal stand in the American pantheon? Do his historical novels about the Republic turn readers off for their political content and supposedly dry writing? Does his late career as polemicist and hired mouthpiece present him as a dusty old eminence, far too close to the rich and famous to have any worth as an artist of substance? Can someone born into a wealthy political family, close to JFK and Al Gore, win admiration as a novelist? Answers please. More people should read his eccentric novels—clearly Gore takes more risks than many of his American contemporaries, coming from a refreshingly bisexual perspective, not the rampantly hetero angle of Mailer and Updike. This novel is an excellent early shocker about a teenager’s nascent homosexuality, and probably still provides solace to readers today, despite its 1940s barcode. The writing is concise, unshowy and closely renders the experience in a believable, painful way. I love Vidal for his completely unpretentious, direct, anarchic, sublimely erudite books! Why don’t Americans?
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