The Truman Show

Daniel Mendelsohn on the film Capote in the New York Review of Books:

DanielturtledrinkA film entitled simply Capote might have been about many things. It might, for instance, have been a bittersweet coming-of-age story with a triumphantly happy ending. In this story, we would have seen how a diminutive and dreamy child named Truman Streckfus Persons survived an eccentric, if not traumatic, childhood—shuttling between his alcoholic and abusive mother on upper Park Avenue and a beloved, rather childish aunt in small-town Alabama —to emerge as the elfin celebrity who, having turned the Gothic material of those early years into his hothouse first novel, Other Voices, Other Rooms, became an overnight literary sensation in Manhattan at the age of twenty-one.

Or the film might just as legitimately have belonged to the equally clichéd (and equally satisfying) genre of celebrity decline. In this movie, we would witness the internationally famous writer and personality Truman Capote —the rich, social-climbing darling of the jet-set women whom he called his “swans,” the creator of admired works of fiction such as Breakfast at Tiffany’s, of the best-selling “non-fiction novel” In Cold Blood—disintegrating over a period of twenty years, alienating his socialite friends by betraying their perfumed confidences, careening from one unfinished project to another, and becoming, by the time of his death in 1984 at the age of fifty-nine, an appalling parody of his earlier, impish self: incoherent, incontinent. “The only one who can destroy a really strong and talented writer is himself,” Capote once said, and it was an observation that turned out, at least in his own case, to be true.

More here.