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Explorations Read-Aloud: “Palimpsest: A Memoir” by Gore Vidal

Friday, June 23, 2023 @ 11:00 am 12:00 pm

Every Friday, at 11:00 am, on the library’s YouTube Channel and Facebook Page, the library will stream a brand new recording of local thespian, Joseph Coté reading aloud selections from a wide variety of fascinating and entertaining books of fiction and non-fiction.

For June 23, Coté will read aloud from Gore Vidal’s book Palimpsest: A Memoir.

Vidal on Vidal—a great and supremely entertaining writer on a great and endlessly fascinating subject.

Summary: Palimpsest is Gore Vidal’s account of the first thirty-nine years of his life as a novelist, dramatist, critic, political activist and candidate, screenwriter, television commentator, controversialist, and a man who knew pretty much everybody worth knowing (from Amelia Earhart to Eleanor Roosevelt, the Duke and the Duchess of Windsor, Jack Kennedy, Jaqueline Kennedy, Jack Kerouac, Truman Capote, Andre Gide, and Tennessee Williams, and on and on).

Here, recalled with the charm and razor wit of one of the great raconteurs of our time, are his birth into a DC political clan; his school days; his service in World War II; his emergence as a literary wunderkind in New York; his time in Hollywood, London, Paris and Rome; his campaign for Congress (outpolling JFK in his district); and his legendary feuds with, among many others, Truman Capote and William F. Buckley.

It’s Vidal, so you know the gossip will be abundant, and top shelf. Scores will be settled (with Anaïs Nin, Charlton Heston, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, his mother), conquests enumerated (Jack Kerouac), choice quips dispensed. “At least I have a style,” Truman Capote once sniped at him. “Of course you do,” Vidal responded soothingly. “You stole it from Carson McCullers.”

It was a rangy life — one that took him into the military, politics, Hollywood, Broadway — and he depicts it with the silky urbanity you expect. What comes as a shock is the book’s directness and deep feeling — its innocence.

It’s a love story, at the end of the day. Vidal had a lifelong companion but remained passionately compelled by a beautiful classmate, his first paramour, Jimmie, who died at 19, shot and bayoneted while sleeping in a foxhole on Iwo Jima. He is the phantom that has haunted Vidal’s long, eventful life. “Palimpsest” is a book full of revelations.

“By choice and luck, my life has been spent reading other people’s books and making sentences for my own,” Vidal writes. Our great luck, too.

Click the links to find the library’s YouTube Channel and Facebook Page.

Thoughts to share? Book ideas to suggest?
Contact Joseph at friday-explorations@usa.net

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Camden, ME 04843 United States