So called because it is a pendant to his recent collection, United States, Virgin Islands is hardly virgin territory for its author. As the toastmasters say, Gore Vidal needs no introduction, but, as the elderly and fuddled toastmaster sometimes whispers, who is Gore Vidal?
Playwright, novelist, and two-time-losing candidate for public office (Senate and House of Representatives) as well as essayist, Vidal, now seventy-two, lives in the US and Italy with his, as they say, long-time male companion. Ahead of his time in political incorrectness (long ago, children, that meant being a left- wing humanist), he was ostracised for a novel that, in 1948, treated its homosexual protagonist with sympathy. He has spent several years of exile in the movie and television factories, and all his life among the rich and powerful of Washington and New York, a milieu reflected not only in his historical novels but his book reviews.
I have not read all of Vidal's novels, but the only ones I read all the way through, with pleasure, are his three detective stories (published under the name Edgar Box). Forced to inhabit an urgent and complex narrative, his main character embodies a heartless efficiency which is thought admirable