Gore Vidal was by no means perfect. By most written accounts (that’s all I have to go on at the moment), he was a cranky old fart (even when he was young) that feuded with nearly everyone he knew. One of his most famous feuds was with Norman Mailer. Vidal reviewed one of Mailer’s books for the New York Review of Books, and he wasn’t very kind. He managed to work into the review that Mailer stabbed his wife. Did I mention that Mailer was no prize on the personality front either? The two men had a couple of physical confrontations as a result. It is said that after ending up on the floor after being punched by Mailer, Vidal responded by saying, “Once again words fail Norman Mailer.”
But Gore Vidal was a fantastic writer. I count his book Lincoln as one of my favorites. RIP Gore Vidal. If nothing else, you kept things interesting.
I leave you with one of Vidal’s and Mailer’s verbal altercations. This is a clip from the Dick Cavett show. I’m sorry to say I don’t know the woman in the video, but it is safe to say that Mailer didn’t have many friends on the stage or in the audience.
UPDATE: The woman is Janet Flanner. She’s described as a journalist and friend to Ernest Hemingway. Obviously, she was adept at dealing with raging assholes. 🙂