An intimate yet frank biography of Gore Vidal, one of the most accomplished, visible and controversial American novelists and cultural figures of the past century. The product of thirty years of friendship and conversation, Jay Parini’s biography probes behind the glittering surface of Vidal’s colourful life to reveal the complex emotional and sexual truth underlying his celebrity-strewn life. But there is plenty of glittering surface as well – a virtual Who’s Who of the American Century, from Eleanor Roosevelt on down. The life of Gore Vidal was an amazingly full one; a life of colourful incident, famous people and lasting achievements that calls out for careful evocation and examination. Through Jay Parini’s eyes and words comes an accessible, entertaining story that puts the life and times of one of the great American figures of the post-war era into context, that introduces the author to a generation who didn’t know him before and looks behind-the-scenes at the man and his work in frank ways never possible before his death. Parini, provided with unique access to Vidal’s life and his papers, excavates buried skeletons, but never loses sight of his deep respect for Vidal and his astounding gifts.