Sunday, October 29, 2006

Capote, by Gerald Clarke

Truman Capote’s life you could describe in three parts. Firstly there was the preternaturally gifted youth who wrote Other Rooms, Other Voices. So much promise at such a young age. Then there was the brilliantly accomplished Capote of his middle years: Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood. But thereafter he completely and tragically fell to pieces. He took to drink and drugs and bad boyfriends and could never turn himself around. In the end he seemed to almost will himself to death.

What went wrong? Capote himself says that it was the writing of In Cold Blood that was his undoing. After watching the executions of Perry Smith and Dick Hickock he was never the same. Something inside of him snapped. The promised novel, Answered Prayers, was never finished. Only two chapters were published, and nothing else since has come to light.

Gerald Clarke spent 12 years researching this marvelously readable biography. There are long interview excerpts from Capote himself, plus other key characters, which gives the book an authentic ring, like you’re in a conversation with Capote and his friends.

Read this book and marvel at genius flowering then suddenly imploding. Why are artists so self-destructive?

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