Every Time a Friend Succeeds Something Inside Me Dies: The Life of Gore Vidal
An intimate yet frank biography of Gore Vidal, one of the most accomplished, visible and controversial American novelists and cultural figures of the past century. The product of thirty years of friendship and conversation, Jay Parini's biography probes behind the glittering surface of Vidal's colourful life to reveal the complex emotional and sexual truth underlying his celebrity-strewn life. But there is plenty of glittering surface as well - a virtual Who's Who of the American Century, from Eleanor Roosevelt on down. The life of Gore Vidal was an amazingly full one; a life of colourful incident, famous people and lasting achievements that calls out for careful evocation and examination. Through Jay Parini's eyes and words comes an accessible, entertaining story that puts the life and times of one of the great American figures of the post-war era into context, that introduces the author to a generation who didn't know him before and looks behind-the-scenes at the man and his work in frank ways never possible before his death. Parini, provided with unique access to Vidal's life and his papers, excavates buried skeletons, but never loses sight of his deep respect for Vidal and his astounding gifts.
He has painted a portrait that is by turns shocking, witty and very funny - just like the much-missed man himself Evening Standard Writer, pundit, bon viveur, frequenter of chat-show couches, Vidal will be remembered by his contemporaries, Parini is sure, "as a meteor who streaked through the night skies, with a fantail of sparks". He is less certain about future generations. "Will they read him? It's impossible to know." With this fine biography, he has done his part in ensuring they will Independent a marvellous new biography ... a portrait that is both affectionate and balanced The Economist As much an intimate memoir as a scholarly biography -- Craig Brown Mail on Sunday Riveting Herald In a good year for biography, the life I enjoyed the most, a gossipy window on a great American, is Jay Parini's life of Gore Vidal, Every Time a Friend Succeeds Something Inside Me Dies -- Robert McCrum Observer
Jay Parini is a Professor of English at Middlebury College and is the author of the novels , The Last Station (adapted as an Academy Award-nominated film and translated into more than thirty languages) and Benjamin's Crossing. He has written biographies of Robert Frost, William Faulkner and John Steinbeck.