Sympathy for the Devil:
Four Decades of Friendship with Gore Vidal
by Michael Mewshaw
$24.00 List Price
Reviewing is easy, but history can be hard. I mean that Michael Mewshaw’s Sympathy for the Devil, his reminiscence of Gore Vidal, proves easy to praise—swift, canny, sensitive, and unafraid. But Vidal himself, two years after his death, poses more of a challenge. Was his accomplishment literary, finally? Or does he owe his status more to his public persona, and his gifts as a well-spoken cultural gadfly? Such celebrity carries its own weight, to be sure; most writers would gladly give up a masterpiece for a fraction of Vidal’s fame. Nonetheless, the nature of that fame ought to be examined, since this book will no doubt prove only the first of several to grapple with Vidal’s legacy.
This one tends to the “entertaining,” as Jay Parini puts it in his endorsement (Parini is currently at work on a Vidal biography).
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