: A Career on the Verge and Gore Vidal :

an excerpt by Henry Van Dyke

Gore scarcely knew Milton Phipps, this hustler manqué. By the time we gathered for a nightcap that Friday, Gore had seen Milton perhaps but a mere two or three times-and then only briefly. As the occasion was celebratory (Gore's tryout of his play Weekend had been warmly received), little attention was given to the black Beau Brummell perched atop the hotel's dressing table.


It was there in the New Haven hotel room, right after Gore removed his trousers in preparation for a shower, that he inscribed my copy of his novel Myra Breckinridge“For Henry-those Nat King Cole eyes! From Honkie Gore.”


I didn't think my eyes looked in the least like Nat King Cole's. (A pun to embrace the title of my novel, Ladies of the Rachmaninoff Eyes, which he'd read two days prior?) And, too, he knew very well I never used the pejorative expression “honkie.” Was this a dig at my pampered, non?militant ways? Or was it to egg on the silent black beauty, Milton, who sat with such passive aggression on the dresser top?