Friday, April 4, 2014

the last book I ever read (Gore Vidal's Burr, excerpt twelve)

from Burr: A Novel by Gore Vidal:

Today the Colonel was in a most curious and excited mood. “If it amuses you, Charlie, we shall go to the Heights of Weehawk and I shall act out for you the duel of the century, when the infamous Burr slew the noble Hamilton, from behind a thistle—obviously a disparaging allusion to my small stature. Yet Hamilton was less than an inch taller than I thought now he looms a giant of legend, with a statue to his divinity in the Merchants’ Exchange, his temple. While for me no statue, no laurel, only thistle!”

I was delighted and somewhat embarrassed. Burr almost never speaks of the duel; and most people, unlike Leggett, are much too nervous of the subject ever to bring it up in his presence even though it is the one thing everyone in the world knows about Aaron Burr, and the one thing it is impossible not to think of upon first meeting him.

He killed General Hamilton,” my mother whispered to me when the elegant little old man first came into our Greenwich Village tavern, after his return from Europe. “Take a good look at him. He was a famous man once.”

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