New York Times fiction best-seller list of January 7, 1973 – Gore Vidal on

Times Machine

Jonathan Livingston Seagull – Richard Bach
The number one best-seller is called Jonathan Livingston Seagull. It is a greeting card bound like a book with a number of photographs of seagulls in flight.

The Odessa File – Frederick Forsyth
At first glance The Odessa File, by Frederick Forsyth, looks to be just another bold hard-hitting attack on the Nazis in the form of a thriller masked as a pseudo-documentary.

Semi-Tough – Dan Jenkins
I fear that I am not the audience Mr. Dan Jenkins had in mind when he wrote his amiable book Semi-Tough, but I found it pleasant enough, and particularly interesting for what it does not go into.

August 1914 – Alexander Solzhenitsyn
As a fiction, August 1914 is not as well managed as Mr. Wouk’s Winds of War. I daresay as an expression of one man’s indomitable spirit in a tyrannous society we must honor if not the art the author.

The Persian Boy – Mary Renault
Can your average beautiful teen-age Persian eunuch find happiness with your average Greek world conqueror who is also a dish and aged only twenty-six? The answer Mary Renault triumphantly gives us in The Persian Boy is ne!

The Camerons – Robert Crichton
Mr. Crichton has elected to address himself to characters that seem to be infinitely remote from him, not to mention his readers. A UK mining town in what I take to be the 1870s (there is a reference to Keir Hardie, the trade unionist).

The Winds of War – Herman Wouk
The Winds of War: 885 pages of small type in which Herman Wouk describes the family of a naval captain just before America enters the Second World War (there is to be a sequel).

On the Night of the Seventh Moon – Victoria Holt
On the Night of the Seventh Moon belongs to a genre I know very little about: the Gothic novel for ladies. But I do recall the films made from the novels of Daphne du Maurier, the queen of this sort of writing. In fact, I once wrote the screenplay for one of her most powerful works, The Scapegoat, in which the dogged (and in this case hounded) Alec Guinness played two people.

The Eiger Sanction – Trevanian
The Eiger Sanction, by Trevanian (just one name) is light years distant from Two from Galilee. For one thing, it is sometimes well-written, though hardly, as the blurb tells us, “vintage Huxley.” Actually The Eiger Sanction is an Ian Fleming byblow and of its too numerous kind pretty good.

Two from Galilee – Marjorie Holmes
Since the film Love Story really took off, what about a love story starring the Mother and the Stepfather of Our Lord? A super idea. And Marjorie has written it.

From the essay:
The Selected Essays of Gore Vidal
Gore Vidal