An evening with Gore Vidal
Guest Post by Frank Drury
I wrote my first novel when I was nineteen years old and I was sure it was the next Great American Novel. I decided that my favorite writer at the time ought to read it so I volunteered to be a delegate to the New Party National Convention in Dallas Texas. They were trying to nominate Ralph Nader for president, which I had no particular passion about. However, I knew Gore Vidal would also be there and I could give him a copy of my book. I slowly approached Gore on the convention floor. My close friend Gary (who is today a stand-up comedian) had accompanied me to Dallas and knew even more about Vidal than I did. The first thing Gore said to us was “And what form is the group therapy taking this evening?” This began a conversation between us that lasted about six amazing hours and ended with Gore standing in front of the Fairmont Dallas hotel cursing and kicking a newspaper machine that refused to give him a paper. But when one considers the amount of scotch that had been consumed that evening, it was all quite understandable. Mostly renowned for his erudite wit and clever turn of the phrase, I was most surprised at how humorous he was. He would tell us a story about JFK and Jackie and he would very effectively impersonate their voices as he told the story. He did the same when he told us hilarious tales about Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote. He spoke of the current (1971) political theatre and had a lot to say about Nixon. Gary and I both did interject with our own thoughts and questions, but it was mostly a wonderful evening of fun, hilarity, and scotch with Gore Vidal. At two in the morning the waitress told us it was last call. Gore ordered a fifth of J&B Scotch so we could keep the evening going! By three we were standing in front of the hotel watching him try to get a newspaper. Shortly after that, we all retired to our rooms and I still remember how sober and dignified he looked as he said goodnight to us in the elevator. I was actually able to give him a copy of my novel and a few weeks later I received a postcard back from him. He was on a plane flying from NY to LA and was about to make an appearance on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. He told me he couldn’t quite give me a “C” on my novel but that he had read it. That first novel was long ago thrown away and I have written several more since then that are much, much better. But, upon learning about his death last month, I couldn’t help but feel how lucky I was to have spent so much time with the man, what a truly great life he had, and what a wonderful legacy he leaves behind.
Frank Drury is the author of AN EMPTY SKY, published in 2010. Midwest Book Review called it “a fascinating and thought provoking read”. He spent the early years of his career as a struggling screenwriter in California before moving to the East Coast and finding success in the high risk world of futures trading, which is where he gained the inspiration for AN EMPTY SKY. He currently lives in Jacksonville FL with his wife and daughters and continues to write fiction. A DREAM AWAY is his second novel and is available in paperback or as an e-book. His new novel, COLORED FLOODLIGHTS, is now available in paperback and Kindle format, and is FREE all day today (11/6/12) as a Kindle download. His books are available through Kindle, Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Booksamillion.com, Smashwords, Powell’s Books, Tattered Cover, and Boulder Bookstore. They may also be purchased through your local independent book store. You may contact the author at email@example.com or visit his website at frankdrury.com