Another day, another book on Gore Vidal. Jay Parini’s Empire of Self: A Life of Gore Vidal describes Vidal’s near-ignorance of AIDS well up to 2001. It quotes a “tribute” he wrote to and about his nephew Hugh Steers (emphasis added):
I am not an art critic and can pass no judgment on my half-nephew Hugh Steers’ work other than to say it very much moved me thematically, in the same way those 17th-century memento mori can set off, even today, great resonances.
But I am a professional judge of character: I think my admiration for the way Hugh conducted his life and death is well-grounded. Now that he has done with both, we should try to recall that the victims of this plague have often had splendid lives. And, certainly, they did a lot else other than die. This should never be forgotten in Hugh’s case, or in that of anyone else.
I saw that, put the book down, and slept for three hours.