A Literary Lion in Winter

“I end up with big houses because I have so many books,” Mr. Vidal said. ”If I didn’t have the 8,000 volumes, I’d be in a one-room flat somewhere.”

SOME YEARS back, when Gore Vidal was preparing to move from Italy to California, the Hollywood Hills specifically, there was some talk in the newsroom about who might write a profile pegged to his Los Angeles re-location. The piece, the eds thought would allow Vidal, 79 at the time, to reflect on why he chose L.A. — the place he thought would be his last address.

As things sometimes go in the newsroom there was discussion, handwringing, but ultimately I don’t think that the assignment, angled this way, ever got made.

I’m linking to a well-wrought piece that the New York Times published that reflects some of that feeling the editor hoped for. This piece is set on the eve of Vidal’s departure from his house high on a hill on the Amalfi Coast.

The study, where Mr. Vidal has written everything from the historical novel ”Burr” to the polemical ”Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace,” is the room that today seems most filled by his presence. The public rooms feel ceremonial, and vacant. Not as many friends come to visit now. ”I know fewer and fewer people,” he said.

The Hollywood Hills home was indeed the place he would die in, last night here in Los Angeles.

Quick update here on Vidal’s home in Hollywood:


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