Today I read two works of Truman Capote: One Christmas and Summer Crossing. A day worth living.
*And if you read my previous post regarding ‘details’, you’ll see I’m not adverse to them at all. A well-turned phrase is a gift and not in the same unfortunate distinction of unnecessarily long-winded prose. Capote is a master of keeping the action going while spitting out un-rivaled exposition.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Seeing a lot of online as to whether this novel should have been published after Capote’s death, but I have to say I’m very glad it was.
If your concern is exploitation, I don’t believe there is any. If you read the Afterward, you realize the care that went into the decision, as well as the complete urgency that those involved acted upon to make sure the manuscript itself ended up with Capote’s other papers (at the NYPL). And all publishing rights belonged to the Estate, which has always provided many scholarships at multiple universities. So I don’t believe there was anything underhanded about the decision. In fact, given the self-loathing that creative spirits have toward their work, it is not surprising Capote asked that his belongings left in an abandoned apartment be put out for trash collection. Had he lived, it’s quite possible he would have changed his mind, and so it’s really with regard for his artistry that we’re lucky to have this published work available.
But it’s as a writer, that I’m most grateful for this surprising find. How motivating, and inspiring that to be able to study such a prolific writer’s first work. It puts us in great company to read his struggles with run-on sentences, comma usage and all those other obstacles that are ever-looming during a first work. Of course it’s not perfect – but oh my god, you see the genius on almost every page. He turned a phrase like no one else, and there’s no doubt why future works were so amazing.
Just a few I jotted down during my read:
“and her…face, shaped with bones of fish-spine delicacy.”
“…the year or hour she had waited to see him…”
“…she’d not thought of him in months, and he seemed as un-contemporary as the songs everyone had sung that summer.”
On the heat of a New York summer:
“…with every step, heat’s stale breath yawned in their faces.”
“Toward mid-afternoon, as the heat closed in like a hand over a murder victim’s mouth, the city thrashed and twisted, but with its outcry muffled, its hurry hampered…it was like a dry fountain, some useless monument, and so sank into a coma.”
Contemplating the differences between Grady and Clyde’s lives:
“It was two ways of being, at least that is how she saw it. Still, when all is said, somewhere one must belong: even the soaring falcon returns to its master’s wrist.”
And while Grady was obviously his protagonist (and an early version of Holly Golightly), it is the brief window he gives us into Clyde that we see that pain is a two-way street in this relationship. And because neither of them can share that pain with the other, the relationship is doomed.
For me, it’s both intimidating and encouraging to have read this. But mostly just happy to get a glimpse.