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The Early Stories of Truman Capote Paperback – September 6, 2016
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“[The Early Stories of Truman Capote] succeeds at conveying the writer’s youthful rawness. . . . These stories capture a moment when Capote was hungry to capture the rural South, the big city, and the subtle emotions that so many around him were determined to keep unspoken.”—USA Today
“A window on the young writer’s emerging voice and creativity . . . Capote’s ability to conjure a time, place and mood with just a few sentences is remarkable.”—Associated Press
“Blueprints of the august, confident, and delightfully acerbic writer-to-come.”—The Los Angeles Review of Books
“Dazzling.”—The Columbus Dispatch
“[Capote’s early] stories are special. Not just because they give a glimpse of an author finding his voice; or for the traces of his masterpieces. But also because they stand in their own right as lovely vignettes of the lives of the lonely, broken and troubled. . . . If you consider they were written when he was a child—aged between eleven and nineteen—then they become breathtaking in their precocity, craftsmanship, simplicity and the tenderness he became renowned for.”—The Independent (U.K.)
“These ten-plus stories were written when Capote was a teenager and young man and will shed light on his subsequent work while remaining sharply observed pleasures in their own right.”—Library Journal
“[A] gathering of the great American prose stylist’s earliest pieces, published for the first time . . . Students of both Capote and the short story will find this instructive and entertaining.”—Kirkus Reviews
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Truman Capote was born in New Orleans on September 30, 1924. In 1948 his first novel, Other Voices, Other Rooms, was published to international critical acclaim, assuring Capote a place among the prominent postwar American writers. He won the O. Henry Memorial Short Story Prize twice and was a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters. His other works include Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Grass Harp, and the nonfiction masterpiece In Cold Blood. Truman Capote died on August 25, 1984 in Los Angeles.
Hilton Als is a staff writer for The New Yorker. His work also appears in The New York Review of Books. He is the author of The Women and White Girls. He lives in New York.
From the Hardcover edition.
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Well, unfortunately, even though there are a couple of good stories in here (Miss Belle Rankin is great), most are...meh. The stories do show his remarkable ability to build mystery, to create complicated characters with layered motivations and concerns. Those written from a woman's perspective are best--and though his affinity for story lines featuring delicate male characters with "rosebud lips" is apparent, I didn't like the stories with male main characters as much.
Ultimately, there is just no denying that these stories aren't finished. A couple of them literally drop off in what appears to be the middle of a thought. They show promise for sure, but they aren't there yet. I believe that diehard Capote fans are going to want to read these stories, but, for everyone else, I would recommend either passing or not reading them until you've read his other more classic books. There is just something depressing about reading the works of a talented author that aren't up to his usual standard.
The short stories in this collection are entitled "Parting of the Way;" "Mill Story;" "Hilda;" "Miss Belle Rankin;" "If I Forget You;" "Swamp Terror;" "The Moth in the Flame;" "The Familiar Stranger;" "Louise;" "This Is In Jamie;" "Lucy;" "Traffic West;" "Kindred Spirits;" and "Where the World Begins." The book ends with the author's biography and about the Truman Capote Literary Trust.
If you are a Truman Capote fan, you must read his stories and want to purchase this book. The early stories are quite advanced for a young writer. He writes mostly about realistic characters in observational pieces. Each character like Louise is drawn to reflect Americana in some aspect. I enjoyed "Louise" but felt it was probably based on a real life experience. The first story, "Parting of the Way," is about two young men and I wonder if they were lovers than friends (something not mainstreamed in literature of the time). "Kindred Spirits" has the least likable characters to me.
If you want to read more about Truman Capote, this book is definitely a must read about his observational skills and poetic writing style in developing characters. Some stories needed to be reread in order to grasp the full understanding. I will be honest that I didn't care much for Truman Capote before this book. I found him to be unlikable after the film, "Capote," about the "In Cold Blood" case. Much like his portrayer Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Capote had inner demons with drugs and alcohol and died prematurely in 1984.
Now as I read his words, I feel sympathy and understanding for this complicated writer. Most writers with a genius talent often suffer from inner demons. Truman Capote may have been the life and joke of the party but he was deeply disturbed individual who needed help and understanding. He surrounded himself with the creme de la creme of society much like a jester in the palace. He wanted to be taken seriously and wanted his friends to see reality around him. He had a great knack for describing and writing about how people actually were in reality. Rest in Peace, Truman.
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