Vidal vs. Mailer
nasty, but some reports say it was even worse backstage, where Mailer reportedly "headbutted" Vidal in Cavett's greenroom.
The feud, from a time when writers really mattered in American public life, is the stuff of literary legend, and Vidal vs. Mailer collects the exchanges, transcripts and interviews that document the historic rivalry.
As we learn, it was a feud from the very start. Mailer recounts in a joint Esquire interview—published here in full here for the first time—that during their first meeting Vidal promised a rivalry to the death and swore that he'd surely out-live Mailer.
Mailer preferred more combative and physical exchanges. At the climax of the feud in the late 1970s, Mailer encountered Vidal at a party thrown by Lally Weymouth and promptly flattened him with a punch. At which point Vidal, still on the floor, uttered what is perhaps the most immortally apt literary criticism ever: "Once again, words have failed Norman Mailer."