I'm still working on these two lists
. Bolded titles I've already read; asterisked titles I'm aware of and interested in. Not that anyone cares. (--;Vidal, Gore. The City and the Pillar. 1965. New York: Vintage, 2003.Summary
: Jim Williard shares one idyllic weekend with Bob Ford at an abandoned slave cabin, and, as he makes his way through life, becoming involved with the sea, an actor, a writer, and the army as well as becoming ever better-acquainted with the homosexual subculture of circa-WWII America, Bob remains his ideal. But, when they finally do meet again, Bob, married, isn't interested, and Jim rapes him. In the end, Jim decides not to dwell on the past anymore.Comments
: I'd never read any of Gore Vidal's work before, but his name is of course well-known to me, and I was surprised to note how undistinguished the writing style is. Purely functional, unadorned, unremarkable prose. But then, he is a bestselling writer; perhaps I shouldn't have been so shocked. Still, it's amazing how, even sixty years later, the story remains so very fresh. (About the only way it dates is through its careful dodging of any actual descriptions of sex.) Jim's fears of being outed, his yearning for social acceptance, the conflict between easy sex and love/monogamy, the semi-antagonism between different aspects of gay subculture--all of these issues still appear in novels today. Moreover, because the larger world doesn't frequently intrude upon the insular and often privileged lives of the characters, there's a timelessness to the story that it would not have if it were steeped more deeply in the popular culture and history of the 30's and 40's. I wish I knew what exactly Vidal changed between the 1948 and 1965 editions--the progressiveness of the writing is far more 60's-ish in tone. I didn't find any of the characters, gay or straight, to be particularly sympathetic, but at least they weren't unreal.Notes
: trade paperback, 1st printingRating
- A quick, easy read that's well-worth checking out for its historical/literary significance.