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"In Cold Blood" (Truman Capote)
Why did the author of such frothy and frivolous fare as "Breakfast at Tiffanys" end up writing this account of the actions of two ruthless psychopaths? Capote got wrapped up in this story to the extent that he nearly suffered a nervous breakdown. Why did this story and the subsequent meetings with its protagonists have such a profound effect on him? Finally, what was Capotes relationship with Harper Lee? I know Capaote was something of a 'mockingbird', and his society 'tittle tattle' killed him (or at least his career).
asked in literature, popular culture, authors



P-Kasso answers:

At the risk of being seen to be glib I think that Capote, a novelist, stumbled on the news story of...

"A wealthy wheat farmer, his wife and their two young children (who) were found shot to death today in their home. They had been killed by shotgun blasts at close range after being bound and gagged ... There were no signs of a struggle, and nothing had been stolen. The telephone lines had been cut."

It was in the back of his local paper and here (eureka!) was a ready made plot line.

Simple as that.

He probably thought that all he had to do was tart it up, expand it and, bingo, here was his next best seller. Easy as pie.

He got sucked in and being a lightweight social butterfly and a dilettante butterfly he was not prepared for the horrors (of real life, real people) that unveiled themselves as he interviewed the perp.

By then it was way too late. As simple as that. Danced in blithely, bit off more than he could chew, stayed to make a book of it, paid the price - and the rest is history.


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vultan answers:

I think its a bit unfair to write Capote off as a dilettante before In Cold Blood. He was a literary figure of a certain generation, and I don't think the short story of Breakfast At Tiffany's is quite the same as the fluffy film version. He was as much a camp celebrity as an author, but the same can be said of Oscar Wilde - and at least Capote could be open about his sexuality. It certainly seems that In Cold Blood affected him deeply, but the idea that he was a lightweight trying to exploit a news story to his own ends is a little unfair.

I think he was good friends with Harper Lee, who based a character in To Kill A Mockingbird on him. I got that from wikipedia, though, so it might not be right.

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


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