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Truman Capote was born in New Orleans in 1925 and was raised in various parts of the south, his family spending winters in New Orleans and summers in Alabama and New Georgia. By the age of fourteen he had already started writing short stories, some of which were published. He left school when he was fifteen and subsequently worked for the New Yorker which provided his first - and last - regular job. Following his spell with the New Yorker, Capote spent two years on a Louisiana farm where he wrote Other Voices, Other Rooms (1948). He lived, at one time or another, in Greece, Italy, Africa and the West Indies, and travelled in Russia and the Orient. He is the author of many highly praised books, including A Tree of Night and Other Stories (1949), The Grass Harp (1951), Breakfast at Tiffany's (1958), In Cold Blood (1965), which immediately became the centre of a storm of controversy on its publication, Music for Chameleons (1980) and Answered Prayers (1986), all of which are published by Penguin. Truman Capote died in August 1984.
The Dogs Bark, Capote's compilation of his travel pieces and personal sketches, was written across twenty plus years. It is necessarily uneven. The brief sketches of varying locales and locals gives the reader the feelling of sitting at a wine tasting rather than an entire feast. Some pieces have tremendous body; still you are only allowed a nip of each. The travel pieces and brief sketches, especially those of persons in the post WWII era, are interesting as a fleeting view of alien people in closed cultures that no longer exist--Europeans in French Tunisia, Capote living in the old Quarter of New Orleans, the cast of the african-american musical "Porgy and Bess" in Soviet Russia, etc. Depending on your personal opinion of Capote's opinion of himself (he is the traveler at the center of the travel pieces, after all), some works are more enjoyable than others. Some readers will find his innumerable digs at the drabness of Soviet life in "The Muses are Heard" wickedly funny; others will be annoyed that he couldn't disengage his own sense of disenchantment to take a more objectively journalistic viewpoint. If you're considering this book, you are more than likely a member of the first camp. The avid Capote reader will find intriguing parallels and connections between the people he encounters in his travels and characters in his fictional works. Others will enjoy the works for their strengths as travel logs--the transparent eyeball of the traveler bringing terra incognita into sharp focus through well-described event and emotion. Skip back and forth through the book; savor the variety.
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