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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where can I buy volume 2?
This is simply my favourite book of the year. I originally bought it was I saw Gore Vidal on television and I hadn't read one of his books for a while. I must say that I was very suprised after 50 pages as I had expected gossip and human interest but not the real beauty of the novel which is both a description of lost love from a great writer as well as insight into a...
Published on 30 Jun 2004 by Elizabeth Taylor

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars rehash from the best of his essays, with stories added in
If you have read Vidal's essays carefully, you will see many of the same stories recounted here, at least the literary ones. Unfortunately, at least for me, they simply don't have the same comic and bitter vivacity of his earlier work, as they are toned down and moderated somewhat. I felt that either his energy or his drinking - which he alludes to and which was new to me...
Published on 13 May 2011 by rob crawford


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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where can I buy volume 2?, 30 Jun 2004
By 
Elizabeth Taylor (France) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
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This review is from: Palimpsest: A Memoir (Paperback)
This is simply my favourite book of the year. I originally bought it was I saw Gore Vidal on television and I hadn't read one of his books for a while. I must say that I was very suprised after 50 pages as I had expected gossip and human interest but not the real beauty of the novel which is both a description of lost love from a great writer as well as insight into a mind/life of a real intellect. As stated by other reviewers this is not a typical biography in that we meet the young child and have an overview of a life, its more a review of bits and pieces of his life, his musings on his actions and the meaning of his life and of course a chance to meet a lot of famous people. Gore is also not afraid to share the gruesome details such as his step-fathers inability to ''get it up'' or his relationship with his mother which as you can imagine from the fact that he used to vomit when she came into the room at the age of 11 was not a great success. Then of course our leading man also mixed with some of the intellectural, policial and cultural icons of a now past century so it can also be read from a historical perspective as an insight into a close but already lost period of time. I felt quite jealous of him swaning around Europe after the war with Tennesse Williams, or meeting the duke and duchess of windsor or partying around in the world pre-Aids or just hanging out with the kennedys all of whom he describes on a personal rather than political level, and I haven't even mentioned the showbiz cast including Paul Newman &r Marlo Brando. I was also pleasantly suprised to know that although he is an undouted top notch whit and racontour (a dying art) he also shares the same longings as the rest of us and is able to express those in a language which is beyond most of our capabilites. At some stages I honestly just stopped reading to savour the moment or reflect. To be allowed to share those feelings and experiences, to have them so well expressed I found simply a pure pleasure. Please Mr. Vidal, I'd be very interested in Volume 2 (apres his 39th year) where we can meet the modern scarey world of his recent political writings and touch on a rather taboo subject in our ever desperate to be young modern world that of old age.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vidal on Vidal. He approves. It's a hit., 1 Jun 2001
This review is from: Palimpsest: A Memoir (Hardcover)
Having exhausted essays, novels, film and TV scripts, plays and short stories, Vidal finally moves in on autobiography (sorry, 'memoir'). As might be expected he's funny, cruel, bitchy, true and relentlessly entertaining. In recounting the story of the first great (unrequited) love of his life, killed in action in WW2, he's also unexpectedly moving. An excellent book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars rehash from the best of his essays, with stories added in, 13 May 2011
By 
rob crawford "Rob Crawford" (Balmette Talloires, France) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Palimpsest: A Memoir (Paperback)
If you have read Vidal's essays carefully, you will see many of the same stories recounted here, at least the literary ones. Unfortunately, at least for me, they simply don't have the same comic and bitter vivacity of his earlier work, as they are toned down and moderated somewhat. I felt that either his energy or his drinking - which he alludes to and which was new to me - has dulled his sensibilities.

What is new are some of his stories and a more systematic treatment of the man you get so many fleeting glimpses of in his brilliant essays. Perhaps there isn't quite enough to him to make this all that worthwhile. Afterall, he has not had a great emotional life: he loved a boy when he was 18, who was killed in WWII, and he never really loved again. Instead, what he seeks is simple sex with no real involvement, and I don't think he understands what he is missing. That certainly explains the absence of love in so many of his novels, or its continual betrayal in the search for power and glory.

Nonetheless, Vidal has had a charmed career, and he built it by himself - "I worked" as he says, in contrast to his step sisters whom he says were 19C women looking for men to support them. There is less of his famed meanness and combativeness in this memoire and more of a man looking back with pride and some forgiveness. His essays are more fun, but perhaps less mature.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A unique Life, 28 Oct 2007
This review is from: Palimpsest: A Memoir (Paperback)
Few people have had the experience that Gore Vidal has been fortunate to know and we are never likely to read of anything like it again. His father was FDR's Secretary of Air and from an early age GV was rubbing shoulders with the famous and the talented. He has a lovely easy style of writing and is never conceited nor condescending. He can give a unique insight into most of the significant American events of the second half of the awful 20th century, and can reveal what famous people such as Eleanor Roosevelt, the Kennedys, were like -- as people. And this also includes member of the Royal Family, some of whom he new as friends. It can be deliciously gossipy in places, but that only makes it all the more delightful.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Glittering memories, 24 Mar 2011
This review is from: Palimpsest: A Memoir (Paperback)
Palimpsest is an interesting, contradictory, opinionated (how could it not be so with such a writer?) and sometimes outright puzzling memoir. Although it has been a personal favourite for a long time, in recently re-reading it, I found there were more questions raised than answered at Gore Vidal's memories of early to mid-life years.

For someone completely new to Gore Vidal's writing I would hesitate to recommend this as the starting point. There is personal detail galore of Mr Vidal's life, views and portraits of people from every arena that he moved in, but, there are only a few details and mostly passing mention of what made him great - his own writing. The novels of that time do appear. Particular focus falls on the work that garnered the greatest attention in those years, The City and the Pillar, and there is the reminiscence of how he started his non-fiction, essayist, career. Just as quickly as they are mentioned the memories glide off into the places and the people of that time. If you have never read a word of Vidal's work before then I'd suggest starting out with Julian and United States: Essays 1952-1992 for his novel and essay writing respectively.

For a dedicated fan there is plenty to delight in. The famous personages, the well-connected names, the disagreements, feuds, passing attachments and friends move across the pages in their successes and failures. There is the wonderful timing of delivery which creates the scene - such as the instance of recounting the public humiliation that Christopher Isherwood suffered at the hands of E.M Forster at a London party. This is also one of the times where contradiction becomes apparent. Leading on from his introduction to Forster; Gore Vidal receives an invitation to call on him at Cambridge, the purpose of which is to invite Tennessee Williams along (Forster was a huge fan of Tennessee Williams according to Mr Vidal). What happens next is one of his famous stories, but there is a divergence between what is written here and an earlier mention of the tale (On Prettiness, published in the New Statesman 1978). Why the re-write? For a better story or a different memory of the event after many years? In this sense Palimpsest is no fanciful name - there other such instances of change between one recorded version and another.

For all the dazzling recollections, and they are dazzling in their variety, there remains that distance between the man who appears in these scenes and the reader. Not that Mr Vidal gives a hoot about such things as others' opinions of himself and it is a good enough reason to like him for that alone. I admire the writer immensely and in this book he documents superbly people and times now gone. There is much in here that is moving to read, his early years with his grandparents, the loss of his friend and love which forms a narrative thread throughout what might otherwise read as unconnected essays. But if you are on the hunt for Mr. Vidal's inner thoughts and imaginative life then look to his novels, plays and essays. That is where he truly lives.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 3 Oct 2012
By 
B J M (Hampshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Palimpsest: A Memoir (Paperback)
Witty, informative, revealing around so many iconic people from the 20th century this book entertains and educates as it goes. A milestone in my zig zagging literary education. How I wish I knew more of you in your living years. Duluth now on order. Thank you Gore Vidal.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very funny, 30 Jan 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Palimpsest: A Memoir (Paperback)
Gore Vidal reflects on his life and the variety of people (both famouus and not-so-famous) who have passed through it. His recollections range from tender to bitchy, but at the same time there is a good laugh on every page.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What has Mr. Vidal ever written that wasn't interesting?, 12 Feb 2002
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This review is from: Palimpsest: A Memoir (Paperback)
Mr. Vidal, as always, manages to set a tone that is engaging and informative. As a man who so genuinely has a way with words, he's once again not failed in this overview of his earlier years....to age 39?? Having met and known such a vast array of people, he's certainly not led a dull life nor ran from a challenge. His code of ethics is, as always, above reproach. May he always stand on his private soap box and share his knowledge, thoughts and ideas. Let's too hope he never tires of bringing the proverbial horse to water, even if at times he has to force us to take that drink!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 13 Sep 2014
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This review is from: Palimpsest: A Memoir (Paperback)
Excellent
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7 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dry As Old Sticks, 13 July 2007
This review is from: Palimpsest: A Memoir (Paperback)
How could anyone who lived such an interesting life write such a boring book? It's like the only point of this memoir is to score points off his contemporaries. And in so doing, further puff up his already inflated ego.

The guy clearly has no self-awareness whatsoever. Like are we supposed to admire him when he claims he is 100% top in bed and cares not a fig for his partner's satisfaction? Very admirable, Mr Vidal. What a prince amongst men!

His "life partner" is referred to in passing approximately three times in the entire book and is otherwise notable by his absence. As are friends in general. Did Vidal have any? No, just famous acquaintances he could pick apart, if this memoirs is anything to go by.

The structure of the book is as self-consciously clever-clever as is the title. A grab bag of memories scattered like cushions over the overstuffed horsehair sofa of the ultimate prissy literary queen.
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Palimpsest: A Memoir
Palimpsest: A Memoir by Gore Vidal (Paperback - 1 Aug 1996)
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