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Good Fibs

Andrew O’Hagan: Truman Capote

2 April 1998
Truman CapoteIn which Various Friends, Enemies, Acquaintances and Detractors Recall His Turbulent Career 
by George Plimpton.
Picador, 498 pp., £20, February 1998, 0 330 36871 0
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... Faulkner was never out of there. Always at night. Always drunk. But one morning even Cerf got fed up with the brewery toxins in the office hum. He took back the key. Another of Cerf’s specials, TrumanCapote, a young goldfish new-swimming into the scene, remembered Faulkner coming over to his place for a party. The elder Southern gentleman had hoped for a bath. Capote said fine. After fifty ...

In His Pink Negligée

Colm Tóibín: The Ruthless Truman Capote

21 April 2005
The Complete Stories 
by Truman Capote.
Random House, 400 pp., $24.95, September 2004, 0 679 64310 9
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Too Brief a Treat: The Letters of Truman​ Capote 
edited by Gerald Clarke.
Random House, 487 pp., $27.95, September 2004, 0 375 50133 9
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... Later, when he was nearly forty and owned a house in Verbier, he delivered his opinion on the Swiss, or, as he put it, ‘the goddam Swiss’: they were, he wrote, ‘the ugliest race alive’. TrumanCapote, in his letters, made many judgments. He recommended the young and unpublished Patricia Highsmith to Yaddo in 1948. In 1949 he recommended Angus Wilson’s first book to Cecil Beaton. That ...

Sad Stories

Adam Begley

5 January 1989
CapoteA Biography 
by Gerald Clarke.
Hamish Hamilton, 632 pp., £16.95, July 1988, 0 241 12549 9
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Jean Stafford: A Biography 
by David Roberts.
Chatto, 494 pp., £16.95, August 1988, 0 7011 3010 5
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... known today; of this famous trio, one is still alive, the other two subjects of recently published biographies. The first page of the feature is dominated by a large photograph of a superbly arrogant TrumanCapote – 22 years old, tiny, but potent. On the next page is a photograph (somewhat smaller) of Jean Stafford – 31 years old, severe, distant, possibly beautiful. On the very last page is a small ...

Late Capote

Julian Barnes

19 February 1981
Music for Chameleons 
by Truman Capote.
Hamish Hamilton, 262 pp., £7.95, February 1981, 0 241 10541 2
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... Start at the back: with the photograph. Traditionally, author’s vanity and publisher’s lethargy combine to make a writer look much younger than he is. TrumanCapote’s portrait does the opposite, and for a particular reason. Study recent press photographs of Mr Capote, or those published last year in Andy Warhol’s Exposures, and what do you see? A plump ...

A Conversation with Gore Vidal

Thomas Powers: Meeting Gore Vidal

30 July 2014
... as if expecting someone to take his picture. He does it when he’s said something clever and is pleased with himself, not overweening or arrogant but just happy, proud, at peace. He mimicked TrumanCapote describing Jackie Kennedy screwing a big Negro chauffeur while her children whimpered in the back seat – ‘Not a word of it true, mind you; he just can’t help himself; he has to tell lies. Which ...

Many Andies

Andrew O’Hagan

16 October 1997
Shoes, Shoes, Shoes 
by Andy Warhol.
Bulfinch Press, 35 pp., $10.95, May 1997, 0 8212 2319 4
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Style, Style, Style 
by Andy Warhol.
Bulfinch Press, 30 pp., $10.95, May 1997, 0 8212 2320 8
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Who is Andy Warhol? 
edited by Colin MacCabe, Mark Francis and Peter Wollen.
BFI, 162 pp., £40, May 1997, 9780851705880
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All Tomorrow’s Parties: Billy Name’s Photographs of Andy Warhol’s Factory 
by Billy Name.
frieze, 144 pp., £19.95, April 1997, 0 9527414 1 5
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The Last Party: Studio 54, Disco and the Culture of the Night 
by Anthony Haden-Guest.
Morrow, 404 pp., $25, April 1996, 9780688141516
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... The adult Warhol looked as much like death and lived as much by desire. A mobile presentation of 20th-century estrangement. A man in a wig in a season in hell. ‘A sphinx without a secret,’ said TrumanCapote; ‘the Ecce Homo of modern exhibitionism,’ said Stephen Spender. For his own part, Warhol was intensely reasonable: ‘I just want to be a machine,’ he said. There were many Andies: the ...

You are the we of me

Joyce Carol Oates: The Autobiography of Carson McCullers

2 September 1999
Illumination and Night Glare: The Unfinished Autobiography of Carson McCullers 
edited by Carlos Dews.
Wisconsin, 256 pp., £19.95, September 1999, 0 299 16440 3
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... was to have no part. The Member of the Wedding How to account for the vagaries of literary reputation? In the Forties and early Fifties, such disparate, talented young writers as Carson McCullers, TrumanCapote and Flannery O’Connor were perceived as kindred; there was a highly publicised vogue of American Southern Gothic writing, abetted by photographs of the very camp TrumanCapote reclining on a ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Flirtation, Seduction and Betrayal

5 September 2002
... with James Hewitt may be a tacit sop to those of us who like our books to deliver what they promise on the cover. Farndale makes up for (nearly) everything, however, with a terrific anecdote about TrumanCapote and Marlon Brando. CAPOTE: You tell him about yourself, and slowly spin your web so that he tells you everything. That’s how I trapped Marlon. BRANDO: The little bastard spent half the ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: Tweeting at an Execution

6 October 2011
... of it. Writing is one of the issues here. And as I scrolled the night away through the moving and admirable and loony tweets, I remembered older American ways of recording death in such habitats. TrumanCapote drank whisky and cried all the way on the plane from Kansas to New York, having just watched his two friends, the killers Perry and Hickock, being murdered in cold blood by the state. Kenneth ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: How to Type like a Man

10 May 2007
... America soared from 4 per cent to 95.6 per cent, the bulk of The Iron Whim concerns itself with the likes of Paul Auster, Bram Stoker, William Burroughs, David Cronenberg, Mark Twain, Jack Kerouac, TrumanCapote, Norman Mailer, J.G. Ballard and Hunter S. Thompson: in other words, men. He says more than once that he’s less interested in typewriters as machines (once upon a time the word also referred ...

Ozick’s No

John Lanchester

4 February 1988
The Messiah of Stockholm 
by Cynthia Ozick.
Deutsch, 144 pp., £9.95, November 1987, 9780233981420
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The Birds of the Innocent Wood 
by Deirdre Madden.
Faber, 147 pp., £9.95, January 1988, 0 571 14880 8
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The Coast of Bohemia 
by Zdena Tomin.
Century, 201 pp., £11.95, October 1987, 0 09 168490 0
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...  forbidden – the great hallowed No that tumbles down the centuries from Sinai ... ’ Asur: many of her speculations and evaluations seem to say that. A characteristic judgment is that made on TrumanCapote, whose work is full of the idea that life is style, and that shape and mood are what matter in and out of fiction. That is the famous lie on which aesthetics feeds the centuries. Life is not ...


Jay McInerney: The Great American Novelists

23 April 1987
... of a select and adept few, made them household words in households where the Bible and The Joy of Cooking constituted the library. As a boy, I became acquainted with Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal and TrumanCapote as talk-show guests. The TV screen was their boxing-ring. Literally so, on occasion, for Mailer, who had studied his Hemingway. Vidal was the sophisticate – dry, erudite, condescending to an ...
30 March 2016
You Could Do Something Amazing with Your Life [You Are Raoul Moat] 
by Andrew Hankinson.
Scribe, 204 pp., £12.99, February 2016, 978 1 922247 91 9
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... When​ TrumanCapote was looking for a news story to turn into what he called a ‘non-fiction novel’, he was initially concerned that such an event might date very quickly, that it might not have the ‘timeless ...

Cold Winds

Walter Nash

18 December 1986
Answered Prayers 
by Truman Capote.
Hamish Hamilton, 181 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 241 11962 6
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A Rich Full Death 
by Michael Dibdin.
Cape, 204 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 9780224023870
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Leaning in the Wind 
by P.H. Newby.
Faber, 235 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 571 14512 4
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The Way-Paver 
by Anne Devlin.
Faber, 155 pp., £8.95, November 1986, 0 571 14597 3
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... the not infrequent obscenity of the lexicon (there are words like ‘muffdiver’, which you will not find in your Funk and Wagnall’s); most of all, in the calculated scabrousness of some episodes. TrumanCapote’s title, which is also the title of a book his hero has written, is taken from St Teresa: ‘More tears are shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones.’ What this may foretell – ...

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