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Palimpsest: A Memoir

Gore Vidal

4 Reviews

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Biography: general, Prose: non-fiction

This is a memoir of the first 40 years of Gore Vidal's life, ranging back and forth across a rich history. He spent his childhood in Washington DC, in the household of his grandfather, the blind senator from Oklahoma, T.P. Gore, and in the various domestic situations of his complicated and exasperating mother, Nina.

Then come schooldays at St Albans and Exeter; the army; life as a literary wunderkind in New York, London, Rome and Paris in the '40s and '50s; sex in an age of promiscuity; and a campaign for Congress in 1960.

His cast includes Tennessee Williams, the Kennedys, Eleanor Roosevelt, Truman Capote, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, Christopher Isherwood, Jack Kerouac, Jane and Paul Bowles, Santayana, Anais Nin, Norman Mailer, Leonard Bernstein and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, among others.

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Praise for Palimpsest: A Memoir

  • An engrossing and beguiling read. Admirably candid, refreshingly indiscreet, intelligent and full of wit, it is also startlingly original... an unequivocal triumph. - William Boyd, DAILY TELEGRAPH BOOKS OF THE YEAR

  • He does not narrate his life: he revives it. The result is something quite novel and wonderfully appealing, a critical biography of himself...Vidal's life might even be his greatest work. - INDEPENDENT

  • Wonderfully entertaining. You want the high-level political gossip? You get it here... it offers all the zing of a Dry Martini without the danger of getting drunk. - DAILY TELEGRAPH

  • PALIMPSEST is a tremendous read, down and dirty from start to finish. It is also a proud and serious and truthful book... - SUNDAY TIMES

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Gore Vidal

Gore Vidal was at the centre of literary and intellectual life for half a century and wrote 'The Narratives of a Golden Age' series as well as countless bestsellers. He died on 31st July 2012.