Gore Vidal (1925–2012) was an American novelist, essayist, and playwright. His many works include the memoirs Point to Point Navigation and Palimpsest, the novels The City and the Pillar, Myra Breckinridge, and Lincoln, and the collection United States: Essays 1952–1992.


The Ashes of Hollywood

Gore Vidal with The New York Review’s founding co-editor Barbara Epstein, 1974
“Shit has its own integrity.” The Wise Hack at the Writers’ Table in the MGM commissary used regularly to affirm this axiom for the benefit of us alien integers from the world of Quality Lit. It was plain to him (if not to the front office) that since we had come to Hollywood only to make money, our pictures would entirely lack the one basic homely ingredient that spells boffo world-wide grosses. The Wise Hack was not far wrong. He knew that the sort of exuberant badness which so often achieves perfect popularity cannot be faked even though, as he was quick to admit, no one ever lost a penny underestimating the intelligence of the American public.

Barbara Epstein (1928–2006)

Barbara Epstein, my friend and fellow editor for forty-three years, died on June 16. She did much to create The New York Review and she brought her remarkable intelligence and editorial skill to bear on everything that appeared in these pages. We publish here memoirs by some of the writers …

‘Everything Is Yesterday’

It was the halcyon spring of 1946. (Increase your word-power! Look up “halcyon” in the dictionary then, while you’re at it, look up “avatar” because, if you are a well-paid journalist, you have been misusing both words for years.) In wintry March of ’46 I was released from the army.


Like everyone else at millennium’s end, I keep thinking of how it all began in Europe. Does a day pass that one does not give at least a fleeting thought to the Emperor Otto III and to Pope Sylvester II? I should highly doubt it. After all, they are an …

A Lost World

New York Mosaic: Do I Wake or Sleep, The Christmas Tree, Many Mansions

three novels by Isabel Bolton, with an introduction by Doris Grumbach
By 1946 I had spent three years in the army where the name of the daily New York Times book reviewer, Orville Prescott, struck not a bell, while, to the few who were literary-minded, Edmund Wilson meant everything. Wilson was The American Critic whose praise—or even attention—in The New Yorker …