What did you set out to accomplish when you took on the task of writing about a literary lion’s personal life?
I had interviewed Vidal in 2009 for The London Times, where I worked as a writer and editor for 15 years. I said he could have been America’s first gay President. He said, seriously, “No, I would have married and had nine children.” So, I was already fascinated by the gay man who didn’t believe in gay people only gay sexual acts, who said he was bisexual when he really wasn’t. Yet he was also a radical, maverick, fighter, and oddly never in the closet. He was such a bundle of contradictions, in private and public, around his sexuality. I wanted to unpack those. It genuinely isn’t intended to be disrespectful and salacious: all the questions emerge from Vidal himself. I set out to address them, and maybe answer a few.
Read the rest of the interview at: blogs.wsj.com.
From Amazon readers' reviews of Teeman's book:
From Sam Neal "East Coast Reader":
This is a fascinating, scrupulously detailed and brilliantly researched biography of one of the most intriguing and, at times, inscrutable American writers of the past century. What is most surprising is just what a fun "read" it is, filled with fresh, juicy gossip and often hilarious anecdotes, many of which can not be found in any other work -- short and book-length -- on Vidal. I'm amazed this is Teeman's first book. I can't wait to read his next one.
From Bob Baublitz "Bob":
I really enjoyed Tim Teeman's "In Bed with Gore Vidal." Not only was it fun and gossipy, which I enjoy, as apparently did Gore, but it also is an in depth analysis of his "hang ups" about his sexual orientation which were part of his generation. Having come just behind him (he was born the same year as my mother) I can understand better his views. Having come from a prep school environment as did he also helped me to understand some of his attitudes. While I appreciated much of what he believed (I don't think I learned anything in college that helped me in my later career) it was the beginning of the end of his life I understood very well. He died like most of my old friends in dementia. His was induced by alcoholism, theirs by AIDS, but the end result is the same. Teeman's treatment of Gore's progressive deterioration after the death of his life partner was sensitively described. That this is what led to his end is the dichotomy that ties the whole book together. What tortures we put ourselves through only to discover we are mere mortals after all.
I found Mr. Teeman's book to be extremely interesting, and, in many ways quite sad. The theme is clearly about becoming entrapped in an artificial public persona and not being able to break out of the self-created shell, no matter how false it becomes over time. I like the way that Mr. Teeman lets Vidal's relatives, friends, acquaintances and occasional enemies talk in their own voices and leaves it up to the reader to sort out their often conflicting stories. One thing is quite clear, Gore Vidal lied a lot about his feelings, sex life and relationships.
Photo: Gore Vidal,1964. Everett Collection