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Portraits and Observations
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About the Author

Truman Capote (1924-84) rose to international prominence in 1948 with the publication of his debut novel, Other Voices, Other Rooms. His other works of fiction include Breakfast at Tiffany’s, A Tree of Night, The Grass Harp, and Summer Crossing, the author’s long-lost first novel, which was rediscovered in 2004 and published by Random House in 2005. His nonfiction novel In Cold Blood is widely considered one of the greatest books of the twentieth century.

Reviews

“A must-have treasure for Capote fans . . . These are delicious, dramatic, and tender nonfiction portraits and tales.”—NPR’s Morning Edition


“A wonderful volume . . . Nearly every page can be read with real pleasure. . . . No matter what his subject, [Capote’s] canny, careful art gives it warm and breathing life”—The Washington Post Book World

“Every piece is a treasure. . . . Pages and pages of remarkably evocative, careful and well-observed prose [delineate,] in a measured and elegant manner, one of the most remarkable American literary lives of the twentieth century.”—Jane Smiley, Los Angeles Times Book Review

This volume of collected essays, many out of print since their original publication, is both a long overdue and welcome addition to the Capote revival. It's arranged chronologically-from a short 1946 piece on New Orleans, written when Capote was 22, to a brief appreciation of Willa Cather he wrote the day before he died in 1984. The 42 pieces range from one-page portraits of public figures such as Ezra Pound and Coco Chanel to the 104-page 1956 "The Muses Are Heard," a masterful journalistic account, first printed in the New Yorker, of an American opera company's tour of Porgy and Bess in the U.S.S.R. The collection contains some great writing-his 1970s "Handcarved Coffins," an account of a Midwestern murder that recalls In Cold Blood and can be savored for its beautifully nuanced balance of empathy and emotional horror. Many of the pieces, however, such as a 1974 sketch of Elizabeth Taylor written for Ladies' Home Journal, feel "occasional" and off-the-cuff. While integral to Capote and his evolution as a writer, these pieces do not constitute his best work. Still, the volume's completeness will recommend it to fans as well as anyone seriously interested in mid-20th-century American literature. (Nov. 20) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

"A must-have treasure for Capote fans . . . These are delicious, dramatic, and tender nonfiction portraits and tales."-NPR's Morning Edition


"A wonderful volume . . . Nearly every page can be read with real pleasure. . . . No matter what his subject, [Capote's] canny, careful art gives it warm and breathing life"-The Washington Post Book World

"Every piece is a treasure. . . . Pages and pages of remarkably evocative, careful and well-observed prose [delineate,] in a measured and elegant manner, one of the most remarkable American literary lives of the twentieth century."-Jane Smiley, Los Angeles Times Book Review

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