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Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Binge Is Back

Have you ever binged on an author? How long did it last? Which book ended the binge?

Starting in the late 70's and continuing through the 80's, I went on a prolonged Gore Vidal bender. Soon after stumbling onto his newly released "Kalki" (1978) - still a favorite - I couldn't get enough of his work. In any year Vidal didn't release a new title - not a frequent occurrence given his staggering output - I scoured his back catalog. "The City And The Pillar" (1948) has retained a spot in my top 25 novels of all time for over three decades. Thanks to a neat feature on GoodReads - every bookworm's favorite website - I recently learned Vidal has the #2 spot among my "most read" authors.

A 1990 rewind took me back to "Duluth" (1983). Was the satire too subtle or was it a weak book? Either way, the binge ended although I continued reading Vidal through the mid-90's, just not so obsessively. Then just before I started Graduate school he mostly dropped off my reading radar - until yesterday.

My current novel hasn't yet grabbed me. The 949 page non-fiction doorstop I'm involved with wasn't designed to be read cover-to-cover. I take the novel with me to the library hoping the change of scenery will get me revving but the browsing bug grabs hold. I notice a Vidal pamphlet (the man wrote in every possible form - novels, essays, plays, short stories, memoirs, screenplays, hieroglyphics) entitled "Dreaming War" (2002), and his incendiary politics have me by the throat; two hours whisk by. Onto the reference desk and directed to the biography section - two of the most recent Vidal titles are there including his second memoir "Point To Point Navigation" (2006), which comes home with me. Home now - what to do? Finish "Dreaming War"? Or...begin "Point To Point"? Or...write a blog post? Or... take "Views From A Window: Conversations With Gore Vidal" (1980) off my own bookshelf and re-read it? Midnight comes and goes; the binge is back. Will this one end before 2027?

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