Who’s That Author? Truman Capote

Truman Capote/Image: Wikipedia

Which Truman Capote do you know? The author who wrote Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood? The life of the party and confidante of New York socialites? The host of the famous 1966 Black and White Ball in New York? The frequent guest on The Dick Cavett Show, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and The Mike Douglas Show? He was all of these.

Truman Capote (1924 – 1984) was an American author who wrote fiction, nonfiction and plays. Capote had a big personality and loved to mingle and gossip with high society. A flamboyant dresser with eccentric taste, Capote was open about his homosexuality. He was also a serious writer, dedicated to his craft.

Capote was born in New Orleans. His father was a con-man and his parents separated when he was a toddler. He spent his early years with relatives in Alabama, where he became childhood friends with Harper Lee. When Lee wrote To Kill a Mockingbird, she based the character, Dill, on Capote. Friends for life, Lee would later help him with his research for In Cold Blood.

Capote’s mother remarried in 1933, moved to New York, and Capote joined them. Even with his mother in New York, he felt lonely and abandoned and spent much of his time inventing stories, knowing for certain he would become a writer.

As an adult in New York, Capote worked for the New Yorker and wrote several stories for Harper’s Bazaar and Mademoiselle. His first novel, Other Voices, Other Rooms, was published in 1948 and is a semi-autobiographical account of coming to terms with his sexuality.

In Cold Blood, the story of a Kansas family murdered in 1959, won critical acclaim and marked the peak of Capote’s success. It was at this point when he began a life of excess, much of which is documented on his talk show appearances. Capote died at age fifty-nine, leaving behind a great collection of work for modern readers to study.


Selected other works by Truman Capote:
The Grass Harp (1951)
A Christmas Memory (1966)
House of Flowers (1968)
Answered Prayers: the Unfinished Novel (1987)


Check out these memorable talk show appearances!
Truman Capote on Dick Cavett in 1971, with Groucho Marx Part 1
Truman Capote on Dick Cavett in 1971, with Groucho Marx Part 2


Thanks to the following sources:
Encyclopedia of Alabama
Truman Capote on imdb.com
Wikipedia


The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin is an excellent fictionalized account of Capote and his famous socialite swans.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

A re-blog of Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Hi Everyone,

I’m almost finished reading The Inquisitor’s Mark, by Dianne Salerni.  It’s an excellent read and I’m looking forward to finding out what happens next!  This is the second book in a great Young Adult series.  Should be finished by tomorrow…

InquisitorsMark_revised_final

In the meantime, my Facebook Book Group and I have been having a great time talking about Breakfast at Tiffany’s, by Truman Capote.  Here’s my post from a few months ago.  I think Truman Capote was an excellent writer and quite a personality.  It’s very interesting to see the differences between the book and the movie.  And his interviews with David Frost and Dick Cavett are very entertaining!

What’s Holly Golightly really like?

Breakfast at Tiffany's book cover

Breakfast at Tiffany’s
by Truman Capote
Rating:
4 book marks

It’s impossible not to think about Audrey Hepburn when you meet the real Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, by Truman Capote. It’s been awhile since I watched the movie, which stars Hepburn, George Peppard and Patricia Neal. George Axelrod wrote the screenplay and the movie was directed by Blake Edwards. It’s so easy to picture Hepburn in that apartment, to hear her voice and remember her sophisticated clothes. Oh to be able to carry yourself like that…

But after a few pages, despite an accurate dialogue, I realized that Capote’s Holly is a much different and younger character and that the movie glosses over some things, embellishes others, adds a plot line and changes the ending! I’ve always remembered loving the movie, but the book is much better.

This novella, a little over one hundred pages, is really a character sketch of Holly. The narrator is Holly’s neighbor, unnamed in the book, a writer who befriends her and a few years later, tries to guess what has become of her.

And she is a girl, nineteen years old, a run-away from a sad past, who makes her money entertaining men. And she makes more money on the side visiting a Mafia boss in prison and delivering coded messages that help run a drug cartel.

I remember the movie being rather light and romantic and thinking that Holly has it all together, despite her crazy life. Her source of income is barely explained in the movie, and although Holly jokes in the book about being paid for her “trips to the powder room,” there’s a deeper sadness in her and a roughness just below the surface that makes a much more complex character.

The narrator has a platonic relationship with Holly and Capote raises the question of all the characters’ sexuality throughout the story. Other characters remind me a little bit of aimless members of an earlier lost generation: Mag Wildwood, Rusty Trawler, and José Jbarra-Jaegar are examples of people who come into Holly’s life, become seemingly entrenched, and then disappear.

The themes of ownership, belonging and loss also run through the story. People connect and disconnect and Holly seems to not care, but suffers the most. She copes by developing superficial relationships and laying down shallow roots. Holly’s empty apartment and an unnamed cat are good examples of a life that is only semi-permanent. And when Doc Golightly shows up, she tries to explain away her childhood marriage and what their relationship means. “Doc really loves me, you know. And I love him. He may have looked old and tacky to you. But you don’t know the sweetness of him, the confidence he can give to birds and brats and fragile things like that. Anyone who ever gave you confidence, you owe them a lot.”

Everything changes when Holly learns about her brother, Fred, and we realize that Fred is the one person Holly has been clinging to the most. And when her business arrangement with Sally Tomato at Sing Sing falls apart, Capote leaves us wondering what Holly will do, or what will happen to her.

If you haven’t seen the movie or read the book, I’ll keep the ending out of my review. But I do think the different ending in the book is much better, and truer to Holly’s character.

On a minor note, I was glad to see that Mr. Yunioshi, Holly’s Japanese neighbor, is not the crazy and inappropriate character portrayed by Mickey Rooney in the movie, a definite cringe-worthy moment. Rooney once insisted that his portrayal received positive reviews, including Chinese and Japanese fans who told him he was hilarious. But he later admitted his shame and regret in his autobiography, Life Is Too Short. There are also moments in the book, however, that reveal the racial prejudices of the times, something that jumps out when you read fiction from an earlier time.

For the record, Truman Capote was not happy with the movie version. He wanted Marilyn Monroe to play the part of Holly, and was dissatisfied with all aspects of the film. After the film was released, Capote commented, “Holly Golightly was real-a tough character, not an Audrey Hepburn type at all. The film became a mawkish valentine to New York City and Holly, and, as a result, was thin and pretty, whereas it should have been rich and ugly. It bore as much resemblance to my work as the Rockettes do to Ulanova.” (http://www.tcm.com/this-month/article/156635|0/Trivia.html)

Check out these links for more information about the book and the movie.

http://news.moviefone.com/2011/10/05/25-things-breakfast-at-tiffanys-anniversary/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breakfast_at_Tiffany%27s_%28novella%29

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

 

Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote

Breakfast at Tiffany's book cover
Breakfast at Tiffany’s

by
Truman Capote

Rating:

It’s impossible not to think about Audrey Hepburn when you meet the real Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, by Truman Capote. It’s been awhile since I watched the movie, which stars Hepburn, George Peppard and Patricia Neal. George Axelrod wrote the screenplay and the movie was directed by Blake Edwards. It’s so easy to picture Hepburn in that apartment, to hear her voice and remember her sophisticated clothes. Oh to be able to carry yourself like that…

But after a few pages, despite an accurate dialogue, I realized that Capote’s Holly is a much different and younger character and that the movie glosses over some things, embellishes others, adds a plot line and changes the ending! I’ve always remembered loving the movie, but the book is much better.

This novella, a little over one hundred pages, is really a character sketch of Holly. The narrator is Holly’s neighbor, unnamed in the book, a writer who befriends her and a few years later, tries to guess what has become of her.

And she is a girl, nineteen years old, a run-away from a sad past, who makes her money entertaining men. And she makes more money on the side visiting a Mafia boss in prison and delivering coded messages that help run a drug cartel.

I remember the movie being rather light and romantic and thinking that Holly has it all together, despite her crazy life. Her source of income is barely explained in the movie, and although Holly jokes in the book about being paid for her “trips to the powder room,” there’s a deeper sadness in her and a roughness just below the surface that makes a much more complex character.

The narrator has a platonic relationship with Holly and Capote raises the question of all the characters’ sexuality throughout the story. Other characters remind me a little bit of aimless members of an earlier lost generation: Mag Wildwood, Rusty Trawler, and José Jbarra-Jaegar are examples of people who come into Holly’s life, become seemingly entrenched, and then disappear.

The themes of ownership, belonging and loss also run through the story. People connect and disconnect and Holly seems to not care, but suffers the most. She copes by developing superficial relationships and laying down shallow roots. Holly’s empty apartment and an unnamed cat are good examples of a life that is only semi-permanent. And when Doc Golightly shows up, she tries to explain away her childhood marriage and what their relationship means. “Doc really loves me, you know. And I love him. He may have looked old and tacky to you. But you don’t know the sweetness of him, the confidence he can give to birds and brats and fragile things like that. Anyone who ever gave you confidence, you owe them a lot.”

Everything changes when Holly learns about her brother, Fred, and we realize that Fred is the one person Holly has been clinging to the most. And when her business arrangement with Sally Tomato at Sing Sing falls apart, Capote leaves us wondering what Holly will do, or what will happen to her.

If you haven’t seen the movie or read the book, I’ll keep the ending out of my review. But I do think the different ending in the book is much better, and truer to Holly’s character.

On a minor note, I was glad to see that Mr. Yunioshi, Holly’s Japanese neighbor, is not the crazy and inappropriate character portrayed by Mickey Rooney in the movie, a definite cringe-worthy moment. Rooney once insisted that his portrayal received positive reviews, including Chinese and Japanese fans who told him he was hilarious. But he later admitted his shame and regret in his autobiography, Life Is Too Short. There are also moments in the book, however, that reveal the racial prejudices of the times, something that jumps out when you read fiction from an earlier time.

For the record, Truman Capote was not happy with the movie version. He wanted Marilyn Monroe to play the part of Holly, and was dissatisfied with all aspects of the film. After the film was released, Capote commented, “Holly Golightly was real-a tough character, not an Audrey Hepburn type at all. The film became a mawkish valentine to New York City and Holly, and, as a result, was thin and pretty, whereas it should have been rich and ugly. It bore as much resemblance to my work as the Rockettes do to Ulanova.” Check out this article on tcm.com.

These links provide more information about the book and the movie:

moviefone.com article

Wikipedia

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Book Preview: Breakfast at Tiffany’s, by Truman Capote

Breakfast at Tiffany's book cover

Thinking about books that have been made into movies reminded me of the 1961 movie classic, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, starring Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard. Although I’ve seen the movie many times, I’ve never read the 1950 novella, which was written by Truman Capote.

Breakfast at Tiffany's movie
Here’s the movie version, starring Audrey Hepburn

Last night, I spent the evening reading about Truman Capote and watching an A&E Biography about him. Then I watched a bunch of Capote interviews on YouTube with David Frost, Dick Cavett, and William F. Buckley.

truman capote pic
Truman Capote

Truman Capote (1924-1984) was an American author of fiction and non-fiction, including novels, short stories and plays. He loved being the center of attention and was also a well-known figure on the New York social scene. His first novel, Other Places, Other Rooms, was published in 1948 and is the story of a thirteen-year-old boy who, like Capote, confronts and embraces his homosexuality. Although Capote’s fiction had gained great attention, it was In Cold Blood, a work he called his “non-fiction novel” (1966) which launched him into his greatest fame. In Cold Blood, which was also made into a movie in 1967 and stars Robert Blake and Scott Wilson, became an immediate best-seller and one of the most profitable books in publishing history. Capote spent five years researching the 1959 murder of a family in a small town in Western Kansas. Capote was great childhood friends with Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird and she helped him with his research for In Cold Blood.  His research included extensive interviews with the convicted killers and Capote developed an intense relationship with one of the men before they were executed. In Cold Blood was his last published book while Capote was alive.

In 1966, Capote threw a lavish party for his New York friends, called the “Black and White Ball” in the Grand Ballroom of the New York Plaza. It was the most talked-about event for years to follow. He continued to work on his tell-all novel, Answered Prayers, published posthumously. But Capote’s social downfall came after Esquire Magazine published a chapter excerpt from this book (“La Côte Basque 1965”), said to reveal intimate secrets of many of his real female friends.

Capote spent the rest of his years partying and celebrating his fame on the interview circuit. He was a regular at New York’s Studio 54. He struggled with drug and alcohol abuse and died just short of his sixtieth birthday.

Capote had a style all his own and was very sharp and witty and, before his social downfall, was well-loved among socialites. I think his interviews are fascinating, very funny and a little bit sad.

Now I’m ready to start reading Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Many thanks to Google Images, YouTube, Biography.com and Wikipedia!

Truman Garcia Capote. (2014). The Biography.com website. Retrieved 06:59, Sep 24, 2014, from http://www.biography.com/people/truman-capote-9237547.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7278BPpa-jw&index=1&list=PLnQiGCuCfnW-yBkU-ueF7j83ELc3163-E

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySkwEXDVgEg

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truman_Capote

Picture of Truman Capote: http://sunpeople77im.com/truman-capote.html