Keith Staskiewicz
October 22, 2015 at 08:55 PM EDT

Empire of Self: A Life of Gore Vidal

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Jay Parini
publisher
Doubleday
genre
Biography
We gave it a B+

Gore Vidal always wanted to be considered a novelist foremost, but he was just too good at too many other roles: essayist, memoirist, playwright, television fixture, bon vivant, and among the last of a dying breed of American intellectuals. Parini, a friend during Vidal’s final decades, pulls no punches in this posthumous biography, admiring Vidal from a distance but scrutinizing him up close. One senses that Vidal’s overstuffed life might have been more fun to live than read about—the book can be as name-droppy as its subject notoriously was—but Parini finds the man beneath the accomplishments. B+

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