Thursday, June 15, 2006

Capote: A Biography by Gerald Clarke

I am almost completing “Capote: A Biography” by Gerald Clarke and my head is still reeling from the after effects. I loved the book. I haven’t seen the movie yet but I know that it is bleak considering the book is not a light read either. Capote’s life has been contained marvelously in this book. It has character and a lot of substance.

I wonder why every genius’s life is so melancholic. Capote’s life was no exception either. Abandoned by his parents at an early age he was forced to stay with his old cousins at Monroeville, Alabama and kept fantasizing about the day his parents would come and take him away. The day did come and Capote met his first love: New York City. Mr. Clarke’s description of the New York Capote grew up in and flourished as a writer is simply outstanding. You can almost see all the sights and inhale its smells. Capote – the name was that of his step-father who eventually adopted him and who Truman grew close to.

One would think that “homosexuality” would run strong in the book considering Truman’s preference; however that is not the case. What is captured brilliantly is his rise from working as a copy boy for “The New York Times” to becoming one of the famous twentieth century writers. His flamboyance, wit, anger, a streak of bitchiness, lavishness, fastidiousness and ultimately is downfall. Everything that Capote stood for is interestingly written about. Right from his affairs to his one-liners to his impulsive behaviour and his kindness [which wasn’t known to all] to the torture a writer goes through while working on a book [it took him six years to finish “In Cold Blood” which is now heralded as a modern classic] and the frustration when the accolades aren’t enough. The book successfully depicts his many friendships with the rich and the known to the downfall when he published a part of “Answered Prayers” [his self-proclaimed masterpiece] in Esquire and the characters were based on his rich friends, who did not forgive him for that.

This is the first time ever that I am reading a biography of a writer’s life and I am so inclined to pick up more biographies of my favourite writers. To want to know more about their lives. I think next on my list has to be either F. Scott Fitzgerald or Anais Nin.


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