Posted by Vale
Gore Vidal died at the end of July aged 86. Although he would have wanted to be remembered as a writer and thinker, he was perhaps better known as a raconteur and wit with a vicious line in put downs. He had a long feud with writer Norman Mailer and once goaded the belligerent Mailer so much that he knocked Vidal down. As he fell to the floor Vidal managed to say ‘Ah, Norman, lost for words again’.
But then, with an insouciant air the GFG itself likes to sport, he believed that ‘Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.’
Dick Cavett, who used to host a TV chat show, has said that ‘You can be sure of one thing. Gore Vidal hates being dead. Unless of course we die and go somewhere you write, drink, have sex, appear on TV and, above all else, talk.’
It’s less well known that he had chosen and laid out his final resting place many years ago. His headstone of polished granite, marked with his date of birth, was in place and waiting only for his own death and interment for its inscription to be completed. The headstone includes Gore’s lifelong companion, Howard Austen, who died in 2003.
It’s in Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington DC which dates back to the early 1700s. Christopher Hitchens called it a ‘WASP rockery’. You’d expect the patrician Vidal to want to keep distinguished company. Perhaps more unexpected is the suggestion that he chose his plot for another reason altogether. Nearby is the grave of Jimmie Trimble, a school friend and lover of Vidal’s who died on Iwo Jima. Jimmie was, the New York Times has suggested, ‘the only person with whom [Vidal] ever felt wholeness.’