Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Gore Vidal and an Unrelated Sex Story

Most of the quotes you’re going to read from Gore Vidal are snarky comments about politics. Thriller Guy had to search to find one that was about writing.

"How marvelous books are, crossing worlds and centuries, defeating ignorance and, finally, cruel time itself."

Thriller Guy now adds Vidal to the list of recently dead writers. Unfortunately, TG has little good to say about the man. He was an OK fiction writer, though TG didn’t read all that much of his work, mostly the American history fiction, 1876, Burr and Lincoln. As all the world knows, TG’s alter ego Allen Appel has his own Lincoln books, first, the time travel adventure, Book Five of the esteemed Pastmaster series, In Time of War, soon to be available in eBook format, (place your advance orders now) and the already-in-place eBook, Abraham Lincoln: Detective. The point here being that Appel and TG know a hell of a lot about Lincoln and Vidal’s book had some outright mistakes and included a lot of material that is now considered not historically accurate. And TG must add, the style and writing of the book was “popular” to the point of sounding both unoriginal and pedestrian. So, rather than go on about the matter, TG will just say that perhaps the man’s essays were his strongest point. TG will also refrain from pointing out (you know how TG hates to speak ill of the dead) that over the years Vidal had turned into something of a conspiracy crank and his pronouncements on American politics became more and more ridiculous.

TG will just sum up this way: Gore Vidal was no Harry Crews.

But you are saying, “How about the sex story, TG? You promised us a sex story about a famous publishing professional.” OK, Here you go. I originally told this story in a blog entry several months ago, but I decided, probably wisely, that the time was not right to tell it so I never put it up. Is it true? I have no reason to think it’s not.

Several months ago TG noted the passing of the famous Grove Press publisher, Barney Rosset. If you don't know who Rosset is, check him out here. He was a giant in the industry for many reasons, a giant and hero in our popular and literary culture. An editor of mine once worked with Rosset at Grove Press. Every year the staff had a tough time coming up with a birthday present for Barney, he had been everywhere, done everything, and had everything he seemed to want. So one year, here’s what they came up with.

After work on his birthday the staff, or some of the staff, told Barney they were going to take him to his birthday present. This was in New York City. They left the building where they worked and went to a street in the West Village, stopped in front of a brownstone and handed the birthday boy a key. They told him to go into the house and upstairs to the master bedroom. He had the place for 24 hours and he could do anything, anything at all to what he found in the bedroom. They left him there, standing outside on the sidewalk.

Inside, in the bedroom, was an incredibly beautiful African American woman, naked, chained to a huge wheel that was affixed to the wall.

Happy Birthday, Barney.



  1. Nice to see someone else speaking ill of the dead.

  2. I prefer to simply think of Vidal as the author of "Caligula," and let that be the greatest stain on his career.