‘Book Review’ Editor and a ‘Minor Manhattan Academic’ Get GoredBack in 1999, Fred Kaplan, the author of Gore Vidal: A Biography, told Salon that after the biography came out, he continued to enjoy a “relatively stable rapport” with his subject; the two even appeared on a panel together that year. But my, how things have changed! In her November article in the Times Book Review on the relationships between biographers and their subjects, Review editor Rachel Donadio referred to their “bitter falling-out,” largely due to the fact, Kaplan claimed, that although Vidal had asked him to write the book, he got pissed when Kaplan wouldn’t let him see the final manuscript, which, according to Kaplan, touched on Vidal’s “narcissistic egomania, his fascination with celebrity, his need to be in the spotlight, his evasion from serious self-analysis, that kind of thing … but not in a judgmental way.” Well, of course not. Anyway, this version of the story didn’t sit well with Vidal, who responded with a letter to the editor in this week’s Review so scathing, rambling, and gleefully insane that we can practically see the note that must have prefaced it, something like “IF YOU ARE GOING TO PRINT THIS PRINT IT EXACTLY LIKE I WROTE IT YOU BASTARDS.” Highlights include a reference to the bio as a “sacred project” and descriptions of Kaplan as “a minor Manhattan academic” or “at best slightly below the mediocre, flailing and giggling about and telling lies,” and worse. “How did I get involved with someone so undistinguished?” he asks, rhetorically.
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Stayin’ Alive: Alan Patricof
Every so often you read a profile of an old person that seems like an obituary, even though the person is not yet dead. Such is the case with Fortune’s piece on 70-year-old venture capitalist (and early, not-so-dearly departed New York Magazine investor) Alan Patricof. This is not necessarily the fault of the author, Oliver Ryan. Patricof has been around so long that every story about him in the past twenty years has seemed like an obituary. Ryan uses Patricof’s new “web 2.0 life” — his second (third? fourth?) coming as an digital-media investor with Greycroft Partners — as a starting point for rattling off a laundry list of accomplishments: his co-founding of private-equity group Apax Partners, his fund-raising for the Clintons, yar yar yar. Ryan even calls him “the man who owns the Internet” and a “mobile maestro” — which is funny because Patricof’s ignorance of the Internet was at one point rather funnily documented. The whole thing is interspersed with testimonials from various celebrity friends that would sound like eulogies if they were in the past tense.