In the Navy during World War II, Vidal was forced to use point to point navigation whenever compasses failed. It is an apt analogy for his life, which has been filled with glorious triumphs as well as spectacular controversies. Never afraid to enter uncharted waters, Vidal has had relationships with innumerable luminaries, including President Kennedy, Tennessee Williams, Eleanor Roosevelt, Orson Welles, Greta Garbo, and others.
Thoroughly engaging and, of course, provocative, Point to Point Navigation is the fascinating story of an American icon. Vidal himself narrates this memoir, intimately sharing the stories of his own life.
©2006 Gore Vidal; (P)2006 Recorded Books LLC
"In short, the memoir is a perfect encapsulation of Vidal's outsized personality." (Booklist)
Gore Vidal is a master of the memoir. His book is so entertaining and informative, I find myself going back again and again to listen. And you need not listen in order - you can just drop in at any point and it feels like you are listening to Gore recount memories directly to you over tea. Fascinating! Highly recommended.
This memoir is not nearly as good as Vidal's 'Palimpsest,' which was a masterpiece of autobiography as well as witty social history. There were bits of exaggeration and maybe outright lies in the earlier book, but the ego is allowed poetic license.
In this volume the memories are running thin and they threaten to get maudlin. The lingering illness and death of Vidal's life-partner Howard Auster is a poignant tale, told with excellent reserve and no soppiness, but it does leave a big black cloud over the whole book.
On the other hand, we've got Gore Vidal himself reading the thing in his Mandarin drawl, and that blots out a multitude of sins. Gore revisits some of the favorites from the earlier memoir--Jack and Jackie, Tennessee Williams, his parents, Amelia Earhart--and brings them to life like Dickens giving a final-tour reading.
Hearing this final memoir by Gore Vidal is like listening to a witty raconteur after a big dinner, someone who tells one surprising tale after another, but whose stories gradually become less compelling as the night wears on and everyone gets sleepy. There are some wonderful moments. His interactions with legends like Amelia Earhart, Eleanor Roosevelt, Greta Garbo and Tennessee Williams are unpredictable and insightful. His farewell to his life partner, dying of cancer, is understated and moving. His relations with his family, especially his senator grandfather and airline executive father, are warm and moving. But as the book nears its end, the stories become predictable in their efforts to shock and in their settling of scores. The ending comments about the Kennedy assassination seem an afterthought, a weak attempt to end with something sensational. But overall, the book was fun, with many nice moments.
Vidal reads well, with the clarity and expression you would expect from a sometime actor, television commentator and politician.
I am an avid eclectic reader.
Listening to this memoir by Gore Vidal, I had the feeling I was spending the afternoon with an elderly man listening to his stories. A few years ago I had read a biography of General Robert Olds who in 1942 married Nina Gore Auchincloss. Gore Vidal’s famous actress mother. I like it when information in one book I read shows up in another book I am reading. Vidal came from a famous family. His father was a military pilot who in civilian life started three airlines, TWA, Eastern and Northwestern. His mother was an actress whose father was a long time Senator from Oklahoma. Gore tells about reading to his grandfather who was blind and going into the U.S. Senate to read whatever was needed to him. The book is a bit rambling but just as it would be if you were sitting having a conversation with him. His life ranged from a playwright on Broadway to a Hollywood screen writer to essayist and novelist. In the book he discusses the various famous people he knew in all types of professions. From Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy (his step sister was Jackie Auchincloss Kennedy). He also discussed Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, Saul Bellows, and Marlene Dietrich, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. Two people he had nothing nice to say about were Truman Capote and Richard Nixon. A few of his witty aphorism were present also. He wrote this just after the death of Howard Austen his partner for 53 years. I noticed some of the reviews of this book were negative but I enjoyed listening to Gore Vidal. He gave me a glimpse into the life of a famous writer and intellectual from the 1930 through 2005. I remember reading some of his books such as Lincoln, Burr and the novel Myra Breckinridge. Gore Vidal narrated the book himself.
And weird, but also touching and heartfelt. His biting, ironic self is there - but also a really vulnerable one that I didn't know existed, and that I think you could only access listening to this book. There's a lot of names dropped, but it's not gossipy at all. It's a lot of fun to listen to. It's personal, and political, and totally believable. It's this great kind of epitaph for a 19th century man who somehow made it all the way to the 21st century. I got the sense he could have lived his life as just another miserable prep school to Harvard to Law School to Alcohol and death nobody from the class of '43, but somehow he struck out on his own to become this immortal. The thing is - Vidal isn't even a liberal or democrat or whatever. He's just the last of what was the Republican party, and perhaps the last small-r republican. Anyway. The audiobook is fun. I enjoyed it. It was worth my time.
Gore's narration is brilliant and funny and lyrical. It's a pity Americans don't talk like that anymore.
His description of his partner's death. It was really moving - and I got the sense that there was a hidden sadness there that he wasn't quite revealing.
Gore Vidal at the end of his long and over-the-top life, here exhibits his wisdom, his wit and his frustrations, as he settles old scores and drops many a name.
There is much to be learned from this too soon ended short account of a remarkable life.
A very articulate autobiography/memoir. I enjoyed many Gore books. Review complete.
Thanks to Audible Shop.
Glen W Stinnett
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