Niktilar It became apparent right away that this book had nothing to do with the Duluth I know. Number 2 in series. Patriotic Gore Basically, this is a novel about a mayoral election in Duluth, a city just south the Canadian border. His third novel, The City and the Pillaroutraged conservative critics as one of the first major American novels to feature unambiguous homosexuality.

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Vidal published three best sellers in a row. He had already written successful scripts for television, the movies and Broadway.

Clearly, he is not so far on the fringe as to be out of touch with the center. In the way of people with Puritans in their closet, American readers have rewarded Mr. Vidal for the scorn he has heaped on them. He has himself provided something of an explanation for this paradox. Vidal noted that "those writers who are the most popular are the ones who share the largest number of common assumptions with their audience.

Vidal and his following, I would guess, share a sense of exclusion from the center, a grievance against the American way of life--which they nevertheless constitute. In any case, the middle American way of life is the subject of "Duluth," a novel set in a city you will not find on any map.

The city of Duluth in "Duluth" is bounded on one side by picturesque Mexico. On a clear day you can see the Pacific Ocean, 20 miles to the north.

On a clear night you can see the "lights of the aurora borealis fill the entire southern sky like the long cold finger of some metaphor. In the Duluth Woods swamp there is a cerise spaceship populated by illegal aliens form outer space. Vidal, that there is a distinction between the two. Politically speaking, Mr. Another Rosemary Klein Kantor, identical to the first, except for her big nose, is also an author, winner of the coveted Wurlitzer Prize for Creative Journalism.

Years ago, from her hotel room in Los Angeles, she wrote an eye-witness account of the atomic attack on Hiroshima. At present she composes romantic novels set in "Regency-Hyatt England. Vidal does not. They are working fast--for Rosemary is out to scoop them--on a book about the "dark mystery at the heart of the Betty Grable story. Edgar Hoover under the mistaken impression that he was Herbert; she died because she knew too little. The main targets of Mr.

In that respect, at least, "Duluth" is not true to life. Besides slaps at television series such as "Dallas," at historical romances, science fiction, Redbook "a magazine for the romantic career woman" , nonfiction novels, gossip columns, creative journalism whether hot or cold, and thrillers with "mucho macho" terrorists or black super-studs, there are sideswipes at William Gass, James A. The various Duluths in "Duluth" intersect at all angles, so that a character in one may discover that he is also a character in another.

Edna Herridge, for example, dies early in the novel "Duluth," but lives on as the actress Joanna Witt, who plays Hilda Ransome in the television serial "Duluth," out of which she speaks directly to her brother Mayor, who is lounging in his living room in the city of Duluth. There is a lot of this sort of thing, which gives Edna, and not only Edna, a migraine.

The moral of these shufflings of characters and fictions, I suppose, is not only that writers repeat themselves and each other, but also that readers imitate characters as they daydream themselves in and out of fictions, there being nothing else. One of the Duluths in "Duluth" is the novel " Duluth," for this is one of those fictions that refers to itself--often, but not with derision.

It is the kind of fiction lately called "a self-consuming artifact," in that it takes itself in as it cancels itself out. It ends with an apocalypse of sorts, not with a bang, but an eraser. There is her boss, Captain Eddie, who is as corrupt and incompetent as his rival, Mayor Herridge. And finally there is apocalyptic Tricia, the shape- and sex-changing alien from the spaceship, whose first appearance is in the form of Hubert Horatio Humphrey, the happy warrior, still campaigning against Richard Nixon.

Vidal, who is not at his best here, mandibles clacking with venom and glee. There is an uncharacteristic lack of zest to his malice, elsewhere so edifying. Bergson remarked that comedy depends on an anesthesia of the emotions and in that respect "Duluth" qualifies, but for the most part it is more footloose than funny.

Maybe Mr. Vidal noticed along the way that his targets were easy, that they were already in tatters and scarcely worthy of his aim, which is by no means unerring.





Duluth by Gore Vidal (Paperback, 1993)


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