I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

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Thoughts from the Top Table

Point To Point Navigation: A Memoir, 1964 to 2006, by Gore Vidal, Little, Brown, £17.99, 288 pp, ISBN: 978-0316027274 There is an old joke about a man – Murphy is as good a name as any other – whose continual name-dropping and bragging about his intimacy with the great, the good and the famous so exasperates his workmates that they resolve to expose him as a liar at the first opportunity. When Murphy announces that he is going to spend the weekend in Rome “with a few friends” and that he will tell them all about it on Monday they see their chance and gleefully club together to send one of their number to keep tabs on him and gather the necessary evidence. At first all goes well, but once in Rome the appointed shadow loses track of his quarry and, after wandering around disconsolately for a few hours, decides that as he is in the vicinity he might as well go and see the Pope. So he joins the crowd of pilgrims in front of St Peter’s and after half an hour or so the Holy Father emerges onto his balcony, followed almost immediately by none other than Murphy. The shadow is still reeling from shock when his neighbour turns to him and asks: “Who’s that fella in the frock up there with Murphy?” This, as I have said, is not a new joke (nor indeed a very good one) but it does convey something of the experience on one level of reading a Gore Vidal memoir. Point To Point Navigation is described as an “account of my life and times since Palimpsest” (his first volume of memoirs), although the book also features a good deal of what Vidal terms “backstory” (Washington in the 1930s, the Second World War, television, movies, the theatre and politics in the 1950s and 60s). The memoir has bit parts, of various sizes, for: Huey Long, Greta Garbo, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Saul Bellow, Princess Margaret, Johnny Carson, Barbra Streisand, Crown Princess Chumbhot (of Thailand), Francis Ford Coppola, Arthur Miller, Federico Fellini and Rudolf Nureyev. I give the names in no particular order, and the list could be considerably extended. What may be described as the resident cast of the Gore Vidal saga – grandfather Senator Thomas Pryor Gore, father and mother Eugene and NinaVidal, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart, John and Jackie Kennedy,…

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