10 Questions For Gore Vidal

ROBYN BECK / AFP / GETTY

Novelist, essayist, polemicist, all-purpose gadfly and now lion in winter, Gore Vidal has just published a second volume of memoirs, Point to Point Navigation, in which he thinks back on his life in letters and politics. Vidal, 81, talked with TIME's Richard Lacayo about the marginalization of the novel, his love life, Johnny Carson, J.F.K.'s assassination and the last word in last words.

In your memoir you say that you're not a famous novelist--that no novelist is famous because novels are not discussed in public anymore. Has it got that bad?

There's no such thing anymore as a famous novelist. You...

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