We listen back to excerpts of interviews with the acerbic writer, who died Tuesday at 86. Vidal authored the historical novels Burr and Lincoln, wrote plays and provocative essays, ran for office twice — and lost — and frequently appeared on TV talk shows.
One of America's best known literary figures, Gore Vidal was once called "the Gentleman Bitch of American Letters." He has two new books out, "Screening History," part memoir and part film commentary, and "Live from Golgotha," about what would happen if the crucifixtion happened in the age of television. Vidal is also starring in a new movie,"Bob Roberts," directed by Tim Robbins. He joins Fresh Air to talk about his frustration with current American politics.
The author came from a political family, which he says didn't groom him for life as a writer. Nonetheless, Vidal has continued to stay engaged in politics through his series of historical novels and a new essay collection, called At Home. He tells Fresh Air host Terry Gross about some of his early work, and how television helped bolster his celebrity.