Thursday, 28 April 2011

GORE VIDAL HEADLINES MONTREAL'S BLUE METROPOLIS LITERARY FESTIVAL

(April 28) American literary legend Gore Vidal wrote his first novel Willow while on night watch in port on a U.S. army ship during World War II, but he wouldn't hit the bigtime until a couple of years later when his 1948 novel The City and the Pillar outraged critics because it was about a well-adjusted young gay man who comes of age and - unlike gay characters in other books and movies of the era - does not die at the end.

Gore Vidal (Photo courtesy Blue Metropolis)
 Now 85, Vidal headlines Montreal's Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival this weekend with two public Q&A sessions. Vidal was granting just one interview to preview his Blue Met appearance and it wasn't with me (my colleague Matt Hays over at the Montreal Mirror got the interview). But over the years I have interviewed many folks who know Vidal, like author Edmund White, whose recent Broadway play Terre Haute was inspired by the essays Gore Vidal wrote for Vanity Fair about  Vidal's correspondence with Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh.

Vidal freaked out and threatened to sue White for suggesting he’d been physically attracted to McVeigh. "I had [originally] sent him the script and he approved it," White says. "In the program notes, I was careful to note that [Vidal and McVeigh] had never met. But there is one Oklahoma bomber and one famous writer. So I wrote Vidal a letter and reminded him he approved it, reminded him of the times we had met, that he had blurbed a book of mine in 1978. Then he dropped it and never sued me."

It's true Vidal can be grumpy, but the man -- who has been at the forefront of US public intellectual life for nearly 60 years-- .is a living legend and the world is a better place with him.

Vidal will discuss his experience with the American and international media during a 90-minute Q&A session at McGilll University's annual Beaverbrook Lecture series on April 29 (Leacock Building, 855 Sherbrooke St. W, Rm 132). Free admission. It begins at 6:30 pm. Then CBC host Michael Enright will talk to Vidal in a 75-minute Q&A session at the festival's host hotel, the Holiday Inn Centreville (in Chinatown), April 30 at 4 pm ($15). Vidal will have book signings at the Blue Met bookstore (in the Holiday Inn Centreville) immediately after both events.

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