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Book cover of Portraits and Observations: The Essays of Truman Capote

Portraits and Observations: The Essays of Truman Capote

by Truman Capote

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Hardcover
ISBN: 9781400066612






Available to Buy

Synopsis of Portraits and Observations: The Essays of Truman Capote

Perhaps no twentieth-century writer was so observant and graceful a chronicler of his times as Truman Capote. Portraits and Observations is the first volume devoted solely to all the essays ever published by this most beloved of writers. Included are such masterpieces of narrative nonfiction as “The Muses Are Heard” and the short nonfiction novel “Handcarved Coffins,” as well as many long-out-of-print essays, including portraits of Mae West, Humphrey Bogart, and Marilyn Monroe. From his travel sketches of Brooklyn, New Orleans, and Hollywood, written when he was twenty-two, to the author’s last written words, composed the day before his death in 1984, the recently discovered “Remembering Willa Cather,” Portraits and Observations puts on display the full spectrum of Truman Capote’s brilliance. Certainly Capote was, as Somerset Maugham famously called him, “a stylist of the first quality.” But as the pieces gathered here remind us, he was also an artist of remarkable substance.

Praise for Portraits and Observations

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST BOOK WORLD

“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

The Barnes & Noble Review

In addition to his other notorious addictions, for much of his life Truman Capote was a raging and exacting workaholic, which explains the tremendous output in varying forms included in Portraits and Observations: The Essays of Truman Capote. One of the few American writers to tackle short and long fiction, nonfiction, plays, film scripts, and reportage, Capote in this volume shows himself to be a hungry and yet tastefully selective observer of human triumphs and foibles. Included here are early impressions of places like New York and Hollywood and a fond but unsentimental reminiscence of his hometown of New Orleans ("no more charming than any other Southern city.. The main portion.is made up of spiritual bottomland"); portraits of some of the most famous actors of his time, such as Brando, Bogart, and Elizabeth Taylor, even though "the trouble with most actors.is that they are dumb"; and intermittent self-observations, as in the mock interview with himself in which he remarks that if he hadn't been a writer he "wouldn't have minded being kept, but no one has ever wanted to keep me -- not more than a week or so." For such a flamboyant figure, Capote's touch as a writer was light and often subtle, and despite his sad chemical decline, he proves himself here to have had moments of great clarity nearly to the end. --Janet Steen

About the Author, Truman Capote

When Truman Capote debuted on the New York literary scene in 1948, no one had seen anything quite like him. Capote soon became famous for his intensely readable and nuanced short stories, novels, and novellas, but he was equally famous as a personality, gadfly, and bon vivant -- not to mention as a crime writer. Capote s much-imitated 1965 book, In Cold Blood, all but invented the narrative true-crime genre.

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