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US author Gore Vidal dies at 86
Bestselling author of novels, play and essays was admired as independent thinker on literature, culture and politics.
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2012 07:30

Gore Vidal, the author, playwright, politician and commentator, has died in Los Angeles.

Vidal died at his home in the Hollywood Hills on Tuesday evening of complications from pneumonia.

Vidal had been living alone in the home and had been sick for "quite a while'', his nephew Burr Steers told US media.

Along with such contemporaries as Norman Mailer and Truman Capote, Vidal was among the last generation of US literary writers who were also genuine celebrity fixtures.

His works included over 200 hundreds of essays and 25 novels, which included the bestselling Burr, Lincoln, Myra Breckenridge, The City and the Pillar, and the Tony-nominated political drama The Best Man, revived on Broadway in 2012.

Vidal was known to be uncomfortable with the US literary and the political establishment.

Beyond an honourary National Book Award in 2009, he won few major writing prizes, lost both times he ran for office and initially declined membership into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, joking that he already belonged to the Diners Club. He was eventually admitted, in 1999.

But he was widely admired as an independent thinker on literature, culture, politics and, as he liked to call it, "the birds and the bees".

Vidal was known for his view on politicians, living and dead; mocking religion and prudery; opposing wars from Vietnam to Iraq.

A fond lover of drink, he also once alleged that he had sampled every major drug, once.

He never married and for decades shared a scenic villa in Ravello, Italy, with his companion Howard Austen.

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