Skip to content

Reflections of a working writer and reader



Gore Vidal and the bomb

The novelist, Jay Parini, remembers how, as a young man, he was mentored by Gore Vidal.

One summer, I was sitting by his pool in Ravello, working on a piece of fiction. I wondered aloud if it were possible to hold the reader’s attention for about a dozen pages while my characters discussed Kierkegaard’s Christian existentialism. Vidal screwed his brow together, then said: Only if your characters are sitting in a railway car, and the reader knows there is a bomb under the seat.

Many writers, and others, have cause to remember Gore Vidal’s utterances. Wasn’t it him who referred to Ronald Reagan as a miracle of the embalmer’s art? This, of course, while the late president was still, allegedly, alive.

2 Responses to “Gore Vidal and the bomb”

  1. patry says:

    A quote that should be taped over every writer’s desk.

  2. Andy says:

    I do believe it was he. Gore Vidal was an amazing figure: always controversial, always evidently intelligent, always interesting whether one agreed with him or not. x