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The American author, playwright, essayist and commentator died Tuesday at age 86 in Los Angeles.
Along with such contemporaries as Norman Mailer and Truman Capote, he was among the last generation of literary writers who were also genuine celebrities. Regulars on talk shows and in the gossip columns, they had personalities of such size and appeal that even those who hadn't read their books knew their names. His works include hundreds of essays, the best-selling novels Burr and Myra Breckenridge and the Tony-nominated play The Best Man, a melodrama about a presidential convention revived on Broadway in 2012.
Vidal appeared cold and cynical on the surface, dispassionately predicting the fall of democracy, the American empire's decline or the destruction of the environment. But he bore a melancholy regard for lost worlds, for reason and the primacy of the written word, for "the ancient American sense that whatever is wrong with human society can be put right by human action."
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Gore Vidal--novelist, playwright, critic, screenwriter, memoirist, indefatigable political commentator, and controversialist--is America's premier man of letters. No other living writer b...