Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Truman Capote: The Most Perfect Writer

Norman Mailer called Truman Capote “the most perfect writer of my generation.” Perhaps he was. The simplicity of his prose is deceiving. Like Hemingway, there often seems to be another tale - one of greater importance – hidden behind the one you’re reading.  Such a skill cannot be learned. It flows from the deepest realms of the soul and often, it seems, bespeaks trouble.

Truman Capote at his peak 
Capote termed his great work, In Cold Blood, a non-fiction novel.  In my many ways, his life followed the precepts of this genre: fact was hidden as fiction, and fiction was presented as fact. In the end, no amount of drugs and alcohol could meld the fact/fiction parallax, and grief became too severe.
Party (and host) of the Century

He said: “No one will ever know what In Cold Blood took out of me. It scraped me right down to the marrow of my bones. It nearly killed me. I think, in a way, it did kill me.”

Perhaps his greatest creation really was the Party of the Century. For the event, such as it was, came forth from Capote’s imagination, passion, and ambition.  Never before had there been anything like it. It’s as if The Party was a living, danse macabre of his psyche.

And after it ended and the last guests left, he was forever spent.

He was spent forever
Capote filled the ensuing years with sad, public displays of debauchery and rare, incomplete offerings of former brilliance, his talent eroded by pills, sophomoric disputes, mendacity, and disappointments.

The strange story of Truman Capote certainly wasn’t written by him. There’s an unimaginative coarseness to his declining years; a too-obvious narrative not found in his words; a hopeless, drunken weave toward darkness that engenders cliché. No, whoever wrote it has no talent at all.