Mort: Gore Vidal

I wasn’t going to mention the passing of Gore Vidal the other day, since it seemed a little offtrail for this blog — hey, the guy was no H. P. Lovecraft.

Yeah, yeah, I’ve been aware of him most of my life, with the earliest encounters seen on TV when I was a kid, Vidal swapping repartee with William F. Buckley, Buckley’s tongue licking in and out like a lizard. So, he’s been there my whole life, but not to the point that a mention on Up and Down These Mean Streets was mandatory.

And then I remembered. . . .

Oh, yeah.

Vidal wrote one of my all-time favorite opening paragraphs for a mystery. . . .

He wrote three crime novels under the name Edgar Box, and I picked one up cheap once, an old paperback. Death Likes It Hot, first published in 1955. Loved the first paragraph, but stopped reading after another thirty or sixty pages when nothing was happening.

Still, that first paragraph. Here it is, in memoriam Gore Vidal:

The death of Peaches Sandoe the midget at the hands, or rather the feet, of a maddened elephant in the sideshow of the circus at Madison Square Garden was at first thought to be an accident, the sort of tragedy you’re bound to run into from time to time if you run a circus with both elephants and midgets in it. A few days later, though, there was talk of foul play.

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