12. Myra Breckinridge, Gore Vidal (1968)

If I had to choose one book that sums up what you might call ‘the gay sensibility’ it would be this, the story of a power-hungry transsexual rampaging her way through a dismal American college, ravishing hot jocks and referencing 40s films on every page. I was so obsessed by Myra Breckinridge in my 20s that I actually started writing my own diary in her voice. The sequel, Myron, is just as good. I was absolutely horrified when, after Vidal’s death earlier this year, serious literary commentators suggested that he would be remembered not for his novels but for his quips and chat-show performances. This is just good old homophobia rearing its ugly head, of course – never mind that he was one of the most entertaining analysts of C20th America, let’s just dismiss him as a camp laugh. I’d say that his comic novels (particularly the Myra diptych, and Duluth) are his greatest achievement, but come on – Burr? Julian? Williwaw? Lincoln? I wish Myra herself would return to settle a few scores with her ‘art-deco lamp base’.

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Filed under My top 100 novels

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