Gore Vidal, Dead. And Yet Henry Kissinger Still Lives

The Agnellis had taken over the newly restored Sistine Chapel for an evening; then dinner for 150 in the Hall of the Statues, a brilliant long room with statues in niches like front-line troops poised to defend Olympus from the Titans.

Among the crude Titans was Henry Kissinger. In the next few days he and I attended a half-dozen functions together. I have no idea what he was doing memorializing the American Academy; but the people who give money for such causes have made something of a pet of him, rather as they had made one of Truman Capote in an earlier time. I could hear the ceaseless rumbling voice in every corner of the chapel. The German accent is more pronounced in Europe than on television at home. He has a brother who came to America when he did. Recently, the brother was asked why he had no German accent but Henry did. “Because,” said the brother, “Henry never listens.” As I left him gazing thoughtfully at at the hell section of “The Last Judgement” (as pretty and bright now as Tiepolo), I said to the lady with me, “Look he’s apartment hunting.”

—Gore Vidal (1925–2012)