Joyce Carol Oates on Gore Vidal’s Lincoln:
Prodigious Gore Vidal … so kaleidoscopic in his interests, his energies and the remarkable range of his talents, the Vidal voice is as readily discernible in the comic masterpiece “Myra Breckinridge” as in the somber meditation upon mortality “Two Sisters,” as fully present in those critical essays in which, out of habit perhaps, he routinely excoriates experimentation in fiction, as it is in an experimental attempt of his own, … “Duluth.”
So zestfully does Mr. Vidal contradict himself in his practice as a writer, one is not surprised to read, as long ago as 1967, that he has all but given up on prose fiction (“three centuries is quite long enough for any literary form”) while being told that he is at work on a “chronicle” of novels dealing with American history. If Mr. Vidal the polemicist is frequently at odds with, and not particularly nourishing to, Mr. Vidal the writer of fiction, one should not hold it against him. Consistency, as Whitman knew, is one of the minor American virtues.
I'm a Reference Librarian at the University of San Francisco's Gleeson Library, and I run the Joyce Carol Oates web site, Celestial Timepiece.