In response to:
West Point and the Third Loyalty from the October 18, 1973 issue
To the Editors:
On April 20, 1977, the new old New York Times reviewed a book by me called Matters of Fact and of Fiction. The review was reckless. On the assumption that the new old New York Times had not abandoned the honorable tradition of printing letters from those who had been wrongly characterized in its pages, I wrote a Letter to the Editor. The Editor chose not to print the Letter. Since the outburst was occasioned by a piece first published in this paper (“West Point and the Third Loyalty,” NYR, October 18, 1973), symmetry requires that I now offer The New York Review (as a journal of record) the letter that apparently gave offense to those responsible for the “editing” of the new old New York Times.
In what looks to be a review of my new collection of essays, your dispenser of book-chat tells us that my attack on nearly two hundred years of American imperialism as symbolized by the US Military Academy at West Point (where my father was an instructor when I was born) is the result of an “unresolved hostility toward his father, further evidence of which, some would argue, is Mr. Vidal’s cheerfully admitted homosexuality.”
This is quintessential New York Times reporting. First, it is ill-written, hence ill-edited. Second, it is inaccurate. Third, it is unintelligent in the vulgar Freudian way. There is no evidence of an “unresolved hostility” toward my father in the pages under review or elsewhere in my work. Quite the contrary. I quote from Two Sisters, a Novel in the form of a Memoir: “my father was the only man I ever entirely liked….” Nowhere in my writing have I “admitted” (“cheerfully” or dolefully) to homosexuality, or to heterosexuality. Even the dullest of mental therapists no longer accepts the proposition that cold-father-plus-clinging-mother-equals-fag-offspring.
These demurs to one side, I am grateful to your employee for so beautifully demonstrating in a single sentence so many of the reasons why The New York Times is a perennially bad newspaper.
July 14, 1977