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Gore Vidal, All Over The Place

In his interview with Deborah Solomon for The New York Times Magazine, Gore Vidal, after being asked whether he likes Normal Mailer's fiction, responds, "Oh, dear, we’re not going to go into pluses and minuses now." Alas, it is hard to read this extraordinarily colorful interview without separating the good from the bad. To start with the latter:

And what about Mr. McCain? Disaster. Who started this rumor that he was a war hero? Where does that come from, aside from himself? About his suffering in the prison war camp?

Everyone knows he was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. That’s what he tells us.

On the other side of the ledger:

You live in California , where last month the State Supreme Court overturned the ban on same-sex marriage . As someone who lived with a male companion for 50-plus years, do you see this as a victory for equality? People would ask, How could you live with someone for so long without any problems of any kind? I said, There was no sex.

Were you chaste during those years? Chased by whom?

Are you a supporter of gay marriage? I know nothing about it. I don’t follow that.

Why doesn’t it interest you? The same reason heterosexual marriage doesn’t seem to interest me.

If we look at the situation apart from you — It’s my interview, so we’ve got to stay with me.

Have you ever considered leaving the United States permanently? No, it’s my subject.

Do you read a lot of contemporary fiction these days? Like everyone else, no, I don’t.

This is good stuff, although cynics might speculate that Vidal is exhibiting confusion rather than wit. Read the whole thing.

--Isaac Chotiner