This blog is welcome to anyone and everyone, regardless of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, or political affiliation. Unless you don't like writing short stories or smelling bear. Or if you voted for the other guy. Also, I don't really like it when you leave up the toilet seat, so could you stop doing that? Muchas, muchas gracias.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Truman Capote: Cutie Patootie

Young Truman Capote, O. Henry winner, short story writer (he may have written other things, too, but that's unconfirmed), gossip hound, and host to some wild parties, was a major cutie. Vintage recently released the paperback edition of his complete stories, and while his earliest pieces seem to end just when they're beginning, as Capote matures so does his voice -- and ooh, wouldn't you love to hear that voice as he whispered in your ear? Something that wasn't a malicious lie about you and your wealthy friends, I mean?

At times, Capote's writing could be hecka stylish; check out this transitional leap from a line of dialogue spoken at night to a description of the next morning:

Papa used to bring us Christmas trees from there: carry them on his shoulder. That's fifty years ago. Well, now: I can't wait for morning.

Morning. Frozen rime lusters the grass; the sun, round as an orange and orange as hot-weather moons, balances on the horizon, burnishes the silvered woods. A wild turkey calls. A renegade hog grunts in the undergrowth.
["A Christmas Memory," 220]

Here, Capote proffers his authorial elbow as he escorts the reader gracefully from a time fifty years in the past, to the present, to hope. Next thing we know and with only a paragraph break and a one-word sentence (Morning), Capote sweeps us to daybreak, which, be still my heart.

And where does this dashing writer take us from there? We find ourselves on frosted ground. Then he lifts us over his head, we twirl over the semicolon, and land safely on the sunny side. That's just the beginning of the routine, ladies and gentlemen of the Olympic committee, which is packed with difficult tripping steps, e.g. the repetition of the word "orange," which Capote uses two different ways in the span of an and, yet the overall effect is smooth as an ice rink. I think I'm going to faint.

Arguably the best story of the lot is the exquisitely titled "Children on Their Birthdays," which begins, "Yesterday afternoon the six o'clock bus ran over Miss Bobbit."[135] "Miss Bobbit" is a sophisticated and eccentric ten-year-old girl (think Becky Thatcher, if Becky Thatcher had studiend theater in Paris). She and her mother have just moved to the story's setting, a very small Alabama town. Soon after her grand arrival, two boys who at the beginning of "Children on Their Birthdays" were best friends fall for Miss Bobbit, and they become sworn enemies. One of the boys reflects on Miss Bobbit thus:

She was the queer things in him, like the pecan tree and liking books and caring enough about people to let them hurt [you]. She was the things he was afraid to show anyone else.[153]

The story was made into a movie, and readers, don't bother. Don't even think about it. Just read the book, will you?

The 1966 publication of In Cold Blood changed nonfiction writing forever and with its release, Mr. Capote became wildly famous. But in 1975 Truman Capote published excerpts from his book Answered Prayers, which contained scandalous and sometimes untrue stories about the his famous socialite friends. Which he then lost in droves.

He drank, he took lots of drugs, and in 1984, he died.

I prefer to preserve in my memory a version of Mr. Capote that resembles his own memories, so lovingly captured in his prose: forever at his pinnacle, suspended in the crowning moments before the bus rounded the corner.


Blogger Karen Little said...

i never knew he was so good looking?

hey... i'm back... there was no internet where i went on holiday.

i've never read anything of capote's, but i'll give him a bash. he sounds lovely.

hope you're enjoying the new year...

4:19 AM

Blogger wallycrawler said...

Capote wrote one of my favorite books , "In Cold Blood" and I've been hooked on true crime novels or nonfiction ever since . My other fav. was Hunter s. Thompson's "Hells Angels". Both have an aerial quality compared to other true crime novels . If you haven't seen the movie "Capote" [you probably have] see it !

6:24 AM

Blogger wallycrawler said...

PS: you really got it for da gay guys don'tcha .

6:27 AM

Blogger ticharu said...

Inner demons working to the surface perhaps, the metamophosis...

6:29 AM

Blogger ginab said...

Yeah, I don't get too lost in TC's words and I like the death of Miss. Bobbit, and I like his initials are TC. I think he's missing some clip-on earrings in that I am as straight as straight can straighten and I find he resembles a butterfly. Wispy. Dancer. Candelight. But his whisper in our uncropped ears...that's a sister we would listen to.


7:11 AM

Blogger ing said...


Good looking? Patootie. And Norman Mailer called Capote the most impeccable stylist of his generation, which just adds to his cuteness, wouldn't you say?

7:49 AM

Blogger ing said...


And both books changed the shape of journalism. I haven't seen the movie yet, but it's sure on my list.

I like 'em all, 'crawler.


Whatchootalkin'bout, Willis?


A butterfly, yes. Or maybe a cute little caterpillar. But speak for yourself on the uncropped ears. I had mine cropped when I was a pup.

7:55 AM

Blogger josh williams said...

In To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee based the character of the little boy who visited in the summer on Truman. Harper and Truman knew one another as children.
I did love In Cold Blood.

9:39 AM

Blogger matty said...

Brilliant writer. I always thought it interesting how one can almost chart his personal life on his face. He was so beautiful as a young man but the miles showed on his face so much quicker than most. Bitter, jaded, mean and sad by the end. Sad.

My personal favorite of his writing was "Breakfast at Tiffanys" --- which said so much with so little. But, I guess, "In Cold Blood" was his greatest contribution to literature. All those dark corners.

11:05 AM

Blogger Moonpie said...

Hi Ing,
Oooh I'm impressed with your noises, thats rather clever! Thanks for the bit of Yo La Tengo, I hadn't heard that one. I love Yo La Tengo, I saw them play last year, in fact they've played in Leicester twice which is amazing because no one ever plays Leicester. The first time I saw them it was one of the best gigs I've ever been to, they seemed to really enjoy it too, I think that helps. There song 'Tom Courtney' is one of those songs that goes round in my head when I'm in a good mood.
Totally agree about Truman Capote, he's a fine looking young man. Not read any of his work yet, he's on my list. Breakfast at Tiffanys is one of my favourite films though, Audrey Hepburn is soooo cool.

12:20 PM

Blogger JackJumpedOverTheMoon said...


Excellent post! One has to love Truman Capote. :)

While I agree that Breakfast at Tiffany's is a cute movie, mostly due to the fact I'm a huge Audrey fan, the book was a THOUSAND times better. Yes, I know the book is always better (except in the case of Gone in Sixty Seconds where the book was pointless), but there is really a HUGE difference between reading Capote's words and watching Audrey on the screen. I'd rather keep them seperate.

I think that Capote probably just got sick of the "socialite" aspect of his life near the end. His disillusionment with the whole thing was probably compiled into a rather hurtful book. Well... that and, from what I can gather, that is what he was like that at the parties too. Only there, he told the stories to the right people. (The ones that weren't characters, the ones that wouldn't get offended.)


12:47 PM

Blogger jungle jane said...

I always thought that Capote lost it on booze and wrote a book he wouldn't have if he was sober. i have sometimes sent drunken emails i shouldn't have and thought it was a massive year long extension of that - i had assumed he never sobered up to give it that next morning reality check.

great post, ing...i love how you ended it "forever at his pinnacle, suspended in the crowning moments before the bus rounded the corner"..very capote-ish

1:20 PM

Blogger lryicsgrl said...

In Cold Blood, had a profound impact on my young life, the movie, not the book. I could never buy a ranch farmhouse. Nope, never. Live in suburbia, surrounded by lots of nosey neighbors. I like it that way. If my dog barks, they get annoyed, call me & dash over to save me. Oh I don't mean to sound creepy, but I was an impressionable child. Haunts me still. Breakfast At Tiffany's had a great impact as well, the movie again, I never leave home without a little black dress. I mostly remember Truman from his many talk show appearances. Johnny Carson and Mike Douglas. He was a unique character and I always got a kick out of watching him.
After writing this comment, I think it is time to hit the books.

2:17 PM

Blogger matty said...

Yeah, the book is nearly always better than the movie. Last year, tho, I felt Araki actually improved upon the novel, MYSTERIOUS SKIN. ...and I hardly ever feel that way.

...I love Audrey H in Breakfast, too! How can one not!?!?!

3:08 PM

Blogger Labbie said...

My line of thought: Capote-Philip Seymour Hoffman-Boogie Nights-Red Dragon

I'm an uncultured, unrefined bastard, I know.

5:10 PM

Blogger ing said...


Correct as always, Cap'n.


Yes, sad.

I haven't seen Breakfast, though I know it's not supposed to bear any comparison to the book. And Audrey can do no wrong.

I loved In Cold Blood, but I think some of Capote's stories were excellent. I know Mr. Capote spent a lot of time researching that book. Still, my heart belongs to shorter pieces.


I'm glad you like the noises. Yo La Tengo is great. Lately, though, I've been playing lots of Isaac Hayes (who is, I hear, a Scientologist). Remember the theme from Shaft?

I also played some Captain Beefheart, but it made the customers antsy.


Thanks! I read your post about the Capote movie and that helped to inspire me (as did ginab's Tennessee Williams posting).

I don't know a lot about Capote qua Capote, but I got the impression that he idealized his youth and what those socialites represented was pretty much the antithesis. But Mr. Capote didn't use a whole lot of discretion, did he?


Me, too, on the email thing.

I'm not sure about this, but I thought Capote's substance problems increased severely after parts of his mean book were published. When his friends ditched him, he lost it. But I'm sure he was doing his share of partying preceding that.


I went through a period when I was maybe ten? where I read lots and lots of true crime books (some of them poorly written). In Cold Blood is a truly chilling read.


Did you see The Butcher Boy? I thought that movie was better than the book. A rarity, though.


Bo-babbie, banana-fanna.

Boogie Nights was pretty awesome. I haven't read any of those Thomas Harris books (Red Dragon, et al), but I remember being terrified during Silence of the Lambs, which my boyfriend walked out on. And then, oh dear, I had to walk home alone in the dark.

6:26 PM

Blogger jungle jane said...

ING! sorry for shouting but i am very surprised you haven't seen Breakfast I dunno why i am suprised, i just am!

6:46 PM

Blogger ing said...

Shout away. I'm surprised, too. Guess I get caught up in what's contemporary (David Foster Wallace, as opposed to Truman Capote). Part and parcel of being in the book biz. Contemporary-itis, they call it, and one of my poetry teachers accused me of that because all the poets I admired were alive and kicking. He wanted me to dig some Basho.

Breakfast at Tiffany's will be my next goal. I'll see it and report back, okay Gen. Jane? It sounds like an essential.

11:04 PM

Blogger BigBill said...

Just thought I would jump in and say hello!
I just finished a good book " a million little pieces" James Frey.
Check it out. It doesn't contain any fancy writting styles or anything just a good story of human stuggle in today evil world or part of the evil world of .....Uhhhh addiction!!!!SHhhhhh.
I think everyone should read it becasue we all know someone or have someone in our lives who has been, is currently or will be touched by addiction.
Oh yeah if your wondering who the intruder is I caught you off Josh's blog!!

2:25 AM

Blogger josh williams said...

By the way nice post, I was to busy blurting out what little I new to remeber to comment on your well designed post. Also project "E" is about to get underway so you will soon see that all this hard work was not all for knaught. (did I get that right~`)

10:36 AM

Blogger jungle jane said...

Oh that's okay Ing - i have never seen Gone with the Wind...

12:41 PM

Blogger ing said...


Hey there! I mentioned on your blog that I've heard only good things about the James Frey book. I'm surrounded by reading material and find that I get completely backlogged if I don't narrow it down, so I've mostly restricted myself to short fiction/poetry/essays. But sometimes I read longer things, too. My point, which I've prefaced so interminably, is that I hope to read A Million Little Pieces, but I have stacks of other things to read first. Beginning with that book on how to quit smoking (my only real addiction).


I'm in suspense. . . don't know what the "E" stands for.


I guess GWTW has some kitsch appeal, but I'm not all too fond of the movie. Matty might have something smart to say about this one. He's the guy to ask about movies.

4:47 PM

Blogger Mike S said...


That bastard Sean Cassidy! How can
he do that to a 10 yr old kid?
I must admit,I've never seen a
young pic of Truman Capote,I have
that image of him from the movie
cameo 'Murder By Death'.You have
a very happening blog here,love it!

5:41 PM

Blogger ing said...

Thanks, Mike!

The problem with Sean Cassidy might have stemmed from the introduction I used in my fan letter:

"It may seem odd that a ten-year-old girl would write you,"

I mean, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

5:48 PM

Blogger ginab said...

Here's just a little something readers to keep you whipped into shape, to keep you in the know, because you couldn't have known:

"The Compact Disc Digital Audio System offers the best possible sound reproduction--on a small, convenient sound-carrier unit. The Compact Disc's remarkable performance is the result of a unique combination of digital playback with laser optics. For the best results, you should apply the same care in storing and handling the Compact Disc as with conventional records. No further cleaning will be necessary if the Compact Disc is always held by the edges and is replaced in its case directly after playing. Should the Compact Disc become soiled by fingerprints, dust or dirt, it can be wiped (always in a straight line, from center to edge) with a clean and lint-free soft, dry cloth . No solvent or abrasive cleaner should ever be used on the disc. If you follow these suggestions, the Company Disc will provide a lifetime of pure listening enjoyment" (ATCO 1983).

All my love,


5:49 PM

Blogger ing said...


You "wowed" me, g. All I can say is wow.

6:06 PM

Blogger BigBill said...

Well I am in the Waste Management Industry. I work for the second largest waste hauler in the states. Allied Waste on the south side of Chicago. I am in management so I don;t have the benefit of the "all you can eat aspect of the job".
This kind of thing happens often but this one was close to home.
I have not read "My friend leonard" yet but I hope to pick it up this weekend. I read "a million little pieces" in 1 week so it's an easy read. Hard to put down.
I am waiting for Josh to explain this project..
I am always looking forward to new adventures. It's ski season here so I have that to keep me busy in Jan. and Feb. But an idle mind is the devils playground!!

6:37 PM

Blogger josh williams said...

"E" Equator. I just need (we) to know where the equator is going to be at every 15th longitude... 24 in all if my math has not gone south~`I checked it! Right on the dime! The toilets and such? Gaw what a project! thank you so much for the support JWW and in absentia Roscoe ( I guess).

8:49 PM

Blogger higher1. said...

I just stopped by to give you a cyber hug!



8:57 PM

Blogger lryicsgrl said...

Hey Ing, nice juxtaposition (sp?) You watch more movies, I'll read more books!

Hey I finally got a funny word verification:
IBSYBS= IBS (iritable bowel syndrome) WHY? Bullshit!

9:24 PM

Blogger ing said...






It's a deal. And yes, IBS is total BS.

9:36 PM

Blogger ing said...


*Hugs* back, and I'm so glad you've reformed and recovered.

10:10 PM

Blogger ticharu said...

My daughter and I just listened to The Shaggs! Thank you soooo much for posting that. I had forgotten all about The Shaggs. What a cool band! Thank you thank you thank you!

6:23 AM

Blogger ginab said...

Hey dovey, vroom! vroom!

I'm on as your personal secetary.

Time to get on the ball. Doesn't matter what color. Roll out. Lovey dovey all the ti-ime.

7:26 AM

Blogger higher1. said...

Good Morning Ing!

We're talking all about our feelings today and I though you might like to stop over!

Have a fab-tastic day!

8:49 AM

Blogger kellywalters said...


9:09 AM

Blogger matty said...

ing -- When you see Bkfst movie just leave your love of the novella at the door. It's all about Audery and being gorgeous! But, it is a bit of sugar that one can't resist! But, Capote's work is disregarded. Just wanted to warn you!

12:12 PM

Blogger ginab said...

Truman Capote: Cutie Patootie poses awfully praying mantis-like or is it panther-like amid the foliage?

3:15 PM

Blogger lryicsgrl said...

On the subject of good reads, visit my blog.
Thank You

3:48 PM

Blogger ing said...


Yeah, those poor girls. Their dad was a taskmaster. But they made it, and their stuff is weirdly good.


All the time? I'll try, but the cactus where my heart once was might start to prickle up. Your fingertips are safe, though, g.


I wuv u.




I saw the one about Rome. You know, the holiday? It's the most popular movie in the People's Republic of China. Saw it to death. Consider me forewarned.


Yeah, he seemed to have some trouble straightening his arms. Tight tendons in the biceps? Still, that look in his eyes is pretty seductive, if you ask me.

3:51 PM

Blogger ing said...


Why haven't I heard about this book?* It sounds fab. Have you ever read

1.Tough Jews?

2.Call It Sleep?

*Hey, check out lzygrl's site.

4:08 PM

Blogger ginab said...

Yeppers, I did do that after spilling my spleen to Minneapolis. Probably, I won't hear from him. Such is my luck.

Double on the cacti except mine's a bare hole fit for a nest. We'll see. Oh! I was rejected by Hunger Mountain.

4:12 PM

Blogger ginab said...

Mantis are beautiful, delicate, and deadly when need be.

4:14 PM

Blogger ing said...

Okay, maybe he's a mantis, then. Ixnay on the ubber-ue rglay.

4:18 PM

Blogger josh williams said...

I chose to post often and not to post quality...Again nice post and all is a go for p-e. JWW

5:39 PM

Blogger JackJumpedOverTheMoon said...


Why don't you go ahead and take a guess on the Jazzblog, even if you aren't sure. Closest answer is going to get "the point". :)

(At this rate, if I only gave points for full correct answers, no one will get a prize. The question will have to be easier on this next post... Then again, modes are very tough.)


6:50 PM

Blogger lryicsgrl said...

My husband read "Tough Jews"...I tried to read it, but, I don't know what happened.

"Call It Sleep"...I'll check it out.

Thanks for the plug!!!

9:44 PM

Blogger lryicsgrl said...

I read another book by Rich Cohen, "The Avengers". I can see Adrian Brody starring in the lead role, if a movie is ever made.

9:49 PM

Blogger matty said...

...I can see Adrian Brody in any role! He is why I sat thru over 3 hours of special effects and a giant monkey!

I love Adrian.

I really do.

long, dramatic and very gay sigh...

12:22 AM

Blogger lryicsgrl said...

We would be so happy if 1. Adrian were really jewish and 2. if he were gay!! LOL

9:20 AM

Blogger lryicsgrl said...

HI Ing,
BTW, do you like The Who, Pete Townshend?
Have you given Rachel's music an ear?

9:23 AM

Blogger higher1. said...

I went out and bought that book today.

Thank you! *hug*

2:28 PM

Blogger St. Francis said...

I care about you ing

4:52 PM

Blogger JackJumpedOverTheMoon said...


You should be able to get rid of the "rectangular thingie you downloaded when you were drunk" by going to your blog template and deleting this line:

(triangle)a href=""(Triangle)(Triangle)img src="" border=0(Triangle)(Triangle)/a(Triangle)



PS - There would be greater than and less than signs where I have put "(Triangle)"

6:32 PM

Blogger jungle jane said...

Christ i wish downloading shit off the net was the worst thing i did when i was drunk...

10:51 PM

Blogger ginab said...

Me too, me too Jane, lord.

6:54 AM

Blogger crabcake said...

Ing, this is the first time I've been over here. You're a pretty good writer yourself, kiddo.

I might have to read his book now.

12:04 PM

Blogger josh williams said...

Everything is running so smoothly its scary. Thanks and you will hear from me soon. I emptied one of the fuel tanks of the ship and filled it with grog. You will be warm and comfy and famous, this I can say. JWW

8:58 PM

Blogger ing said...

I'm hopelessly behind, so I'm going to answer just a few questions, make a few replies/retorts, then I'll move on.


Ahh, Adrian, so melancholy.


I enjoy The Who, but I'm not a Superfan. My friend ginab took me to a show and I thought Roger Daltry was pretty cute. I haven't heard Rachel's music yet. . .


Have you hugged yourselves today? Give yourselves a big old hug. You deserve it, babies.


I like my rectangular thingie. It's one of the few things I've done when drunk that didn't create a hot, stinking mess.

JJ & ginab:

Me three.


Thanks, ladyfriend.


As long as it's not ethanol. I'm thirsty.

10:22 PM

Blogger ticharu said...

'Rosalyn's Dog' was a disturbing little tail... hehe!

3:58 AM

Blogger lryicsgrl said...

Ever do a "beer bong"?

Clever little device, that only frat boys could think of. You pour beer through a funnel, that is connected to a hose or tube. The person getting the "hit" lies down or is seated with head tilted back, as the beer is poured through the funnel.

Anyway, that's what I heard.

7:46 AM

Blogger ing said...


Yeah, the transformative powers of dogs. Arthur Bradford wrote a collection called Dogwalker which, if you get a chance you should read it. Strange tales about dogs, for sure!


I've heard about these beer bongs, though I haven't been coerced into trying one out for some time. I could never figure out how someone could drink such a volume of beer so quickly.

8:33 AM

Blogger jungle jane said...

A Beer bong sounds a bit like filling your lawn mower with petrol....

11:26 AM

Blogger ing said...

By way of your nostrils. . .

12:12 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

after viewing half of in cold blood
i felt the need to expunge the creepy feeling elicited by the whole t.capote book, movie and life(his) that exudes from him and anything connected with him?(it).
it's addenoidal lysping persona coupled with a pseudo stardom annoited by the likes of jackie kennedy celebrates a sickness foisted upon us with an odius dislike of anything vaguely normal!if only he would have drowned in his own snotty effluvia.

9:11 PM


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