Customer Review

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A brave attempt, 16 Jan. 2009
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This review is from: The City And The Pillar (Paperback)
It was certainly brave of Vidal to write this book, although slightly foolhardy (in my eyes) to force it upon the public in 1948 and throw away his literary career. I wonder how his life would have differed, had he toed the line for a little bit longer. By 1960, his gay theme would have been considered fairly normal fodder.

But the story of Jim did grip me and I loved the seedy backdrop of 1940s America. It was interesting to see the word "gay" emerging as a totally new piece of slang...and even the term "beard" to describe a woman who pretends to be a gay man's wife.

The apathy displayed by Vidal's characters in the face of WW2 was an eye-opener. People didn't give two hoots about the war in Europe, until Pearl Harbour arrived. Even then, with the US formally at war, the primary concern of most soldiers and sailors (gay or straight) is when they're next going to get laid.

As for the ending, I was still shocked and the year is 2009! I was shocked that Jim could be so violent to the love of his life...and even more shocked by the vivid finale of male rape. Everyone seems to think that Jim kills Bob in this scene, but does he? Vidal never explicitly says so. I closed the book thinking that Jim had left Bob lying in a hotel room, broken and humiliated...which seems like a smarter way to finish this novel, rather than outright murder...which is over the top.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 29 Nov 2010 14:49:22 GMT
J says:
I think he will be happy to look back and think that he was brave enough to introduce this theme in 1948 regardeless of any impact on his career.

Posted on 9 Nov 2011 23:34:04 GMT
Mike says:
Thanks for telling us exactly how it ends. I know it's not a new title, but it's usually considered bad form to release "spoilers" like this with no warning. Remember this is the place for reviews, not discussion.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Nov 2011 13:50:36 GMT
Rusty says:
Fair play! My mistake.
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