Gore vidal

Remembering Gore Vidal

Fourteen years ago, my then boss, Matt d’Ancona sent me off to interview Gore Vidal. I’ll always be grateful to him for the opportunity. D’Ancona could have gone to meet the great man himself, but he knew I was a fan so he let me go. Is there anything hopeful in American politics then? I asked Vidal towards the end of our enjoyable but pretty dispiriting evening in Claridge’s. I recorded his response as follows: ‘No,’ says Vidal.Anything good about the American people? ‘Not really.’How do you see the future of America panning out? ‘It panned out already, it’s sinking.’ Can anything be done to save it? ‘I don’t give

The fire and fury of America’s abortion debate

I wonder at times how some of my fellow hacks in America get out of bed in the morning. The leak of a draft of a Supreme Court decision on abortion rights last week prompted what can only be called a collective nervous breakdown. ‘My teeth have been chattering uncontrollably for an hour,’ New York magazine’s Rebecca Traister vented. ‘Bodies/minds are so weird. Like, not euphemistically – actually chattering. Audibly. And full shaking body. Though otherwise wholly, rationally, well and truly expecting it.’ Well, I wouldn’t say wholly rational, Rebecca, but you do you. The terrifying ruling would send the abortion issue back from a single court to democratic debate

Artless, crude and thuggish: Bridge Theatre’s Book of Dust reviewed

Philip Pullman’s The Book of Dust has been adapted at the Bridge. The yarn is set in Oxford, and the surrounding countryside, and the whole of the first act is devoted to exposition because Pullman’s fantasy world is impenetrably complicated. The chief character, a dim-witted child, wanders around the place and listens while terms like ‘magisterium’, ‘alethiometer’ and ‘daemon’ are explained to him. Meanwhile we’re introduced to Pullman’s range of human personalities. He can do two: first, the ooh-arr yokel who is thick but kind, and secondly, the posh academic who is clever but evil. These archetypes give rise to a total of 32 characters who are represented by 16

Why night-clubbing in New York is a risky business

New York The acerbic writer Gore Vidal was once asked which period of history he would choose to have lived in. ‘The 17th century with penicillin,’ was his answer. It was a good sound bite but I don’t agree. Just the smells back then would be enough to kill me, and what about the people without teeth? And the plague of 1665 makes today’s virus seem like a slight head cold. Personally, I’d choose post-second world war New York City, as described in Jan Morris’s wondrous Manhattan ’45. I got there three years later, to Manhattan, that is, and the place was as fabulous as I had heard and imagined