Friday, December 08, 2006
The Telegraph today carried a review of celebrated American writer Gore Vidal's new book, Point to Point Navigation: A Memoir - 1964 to 2006. I was struck by one passage in particular, which I reproduce here.
In Point to Point Navigation, Vidal writes movingly about his personal life. The enduring relationship of fifty-three years he had with his partner, Howard Auster, is recorded as “he remains permanently present in my memory”. He recounts their life together in their villa in Italy and their travels in south-east Asia, even as cancer spreads through Howard’s lungs and brain. Vidal waited on his dying friend with relentless ardour, several times lifting his dead weight off the floor as Howard collapsed, until he himself ruptured a spinal disc. At times near to death, the human mind finds new reasons for hope — at least Vidal’s did. Some conversational details with Howard are etched in Vidal’s memory — “Don’t you want to talk?” I asked. There was a long silence, then he shook his head. “Why not?” “Because” he said, “there is too much to say.” And yet, there is also a surprise ‘ending’ to the relationship: “it is easy to sustain a relationship when sex plays no part and impossible, I have observed, when it does. Each had a sex life apart from the other: all else including our sovereign Time, was shared.”