Point to Point Navigation
By Gore Vidal
(Doubleday, Hardcover, 9780385517218, 288pp.)
Publication Date: November 7, 2006
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The brilliant sequel to Gore Vidal’s acclaimed, bestselling memoir, Palimpsest.
In Point to Point Navigation, the celebrated novelist, essayist, critic, and controversialist Gore Vidal ranges freely over his remarkable life with the signature wit and literary elegance that is uniquely his. The title refers to a form of navigation he resorted to as a first mate in the Navy during World War II. As he says, “As I was writing this account of my life and times since Palimpsest, I felt as if I were again dealing with those capes and rocks in the Bering Sea that we had to navigate so often with a compass made inoperable by weather.” It is a beautifully apt analogy for the hazards (mostly) eluded during his eventful life and for the way this memoir proceeds—far from linear but always on course.
From his desks in Ravello and the Hollywood Hills, Gore Vidal travels in memory through the arenas of literature, television, film, theater, politics and international society where he has cut a broad swath, recounting achievements and defeats, friends and enemies made (and on a number of occasions lost). Among the gathering of notables to be found in these pages, sketched with a draftsman’s ease and evoked with the panache of one of our great raconteurs, are Jack and Jacqueline Kennedy, Tennessee Williams (the “Glorious Bird”), Eleanor Roosevelt, Orson Welles, Johnny Carson, Greta Garbo, Federico Fellini, Rudolph Nureyev, Elia Kazan, and Francis Ford Coppola. Some of the book’s most moving pages are devoted to the illness and death of his partner of five decades, Howard Austen, and indeed the book is, among other things, a meditation on mortality written in the spirit of Montaigne.
Elegiac yet vital and even ornery, Point to Point Navigation is a summing-up of Gore Vidal’s time on the planet that manages to be at once supremely entertaining, endlessly provocative, and thoroughly moving.
Gore Vidal is the author of twenty-two novels, five plays, many screenplays, more than two hundred essays, and the critically lauded memoir, Palimpsest. Vidal’s United States (Essays 1952–92) won the 1993 National Book Award. Vidal lives in Los Angeles, California.
“Unmissable. . . . Wry. . . . [Vidal’s] wit remains by far this book's most alluring attribute.”
—Janet Maslin, The New York Times
“Engaging. . . . Point to Point Navigation is a stirring political protest, a meditation on the fleeting nature of memory, and, quite movingly, an elegiac rumination on loss.”
“Touchingly elegiac. . . . Even mortality and aging seem somehow less formidable in the company of such a witty, penetrating–and unfailingly nervy intelligence.”
—Francine Prose, O, The Oprah Magazine