Saturday, March 28, 2009


Gore Vidal's rambling memoir Point to Point Navigation is a sad, disappointing reading experience. A follow-up of sorts to one of Vidal's very best books, his 1991 memoir Palimpsest, this book is written in a flabby, occasionally ungrammatical prose that shows evidence of the inevitable decline of one of our modern masters of the complex sentence and the stinging aphorism. (Not to mention the perfectly placed parenthetical aside.) The work's redundancies and arbitrary tangents make it seem curiously unedited, and its frequent recycling of material from elsewhere in the GV canon gives this reader a case of deja lu. Yes, the description of the decline and death of Vidal's partner Howard Auster is one of the most moving things he has ever written (and a rare high point in the book), but most of the rest reads like little more than a depressing testimony to Vidal's writerly decline. I hope he surprises us with another great book before he kicks it, but I won't hold my breath for fear of turning Krishna blue. This memoir is terribly uneven at best, something Gore at his best never was.

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