An iconoclast who embodies many of the contradictions of American culture, Gore Vidal is a literary rebel who has just been accepted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a sexual radical who claims never to have had sex with his partner of more than half a century and a cultural elitist who promotes political and intellectual populism. The author of 23 novels, more than 30 plays and screenplays and innumerable essays, Vidal is at his wittiest and most barbed when discussing sex and politics (between which, he claims, there is little difference these days). Weise, sales manager at Cleis Press, has collected 13 essays (reprinted primarily from the New York Review of Books and all but one available in United States 1952-1992) and three interviews (all out of print) that deal with sexuality in U.S. culture. Vidal strikes at the jugular without sacrificing nuance or style: he calls Philip Roth an ""odious homophobe"" in his introduction to this collection; declares in a 1974 interview that ""where the Catholic church has dominated there has never been a democracy""; accuses Commentary editor Midge Decter of proposing a ""final solution"" for homosexuals in a 1981 article; and, in a 1998 op-ed piece, calls for Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott to be ""charged with incitement to violence and to murder... in the case of Matthew Shepard."" The result is a vintage (not to mention portable) collection. (Aug.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.