From The Nation:
Eugene Luther Gore Vidal Jr. has always enjoyed a healthy appreciation of his own, indeed remarkable, wit and talent. So have most other people, though approbation of his moral character has perhaps been less close to universal. His successes–bestselling novels, Broadway plays, screenplays, two enchanting memoirs and five decades of scintillating literary and political criticism–would be tedious to chronicle (and superfluous in the Age of Wikigooglespace). But what do they add up to? Is he famous for some more enduring reason than… being famous?
He grew up in the penumbra of fame. His maternal grandfather, T.P. Gore, was more or less heroic: blind, Oklahoma’s first senator and a friend of Bryan and Darrow, Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. His father, Gene Vidal, was an All-American football player, World War I aviator, friend of Lindbergh and Earhart and founder of TWA. His mother later married that socialite of socialites Hugh Auchincloss, who would later become Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy’s stepfather as well. In the vast attic of his grandparents’ house in Rock Creek Park were thousands of books. Up there and downstairs, reading to his grandfather, he acquired an education. At school–he attended St. Alban’s, like his younger cousin Albert Arnold Gore–he picked up Latin and fell in love with a godlike fellow student, who died a few years later, young and still perfect, on Iwo Jima. As told in Vidal’s memoir Palimpsest, it is one of the most stirring love stories in recent literature.