remnants of capote


The worst line in this collection of Truman Capote’s shorter nonfiction (the first piece is dated 1946, and the last is dated 1984) is to be found in a 1967 entry titled “Extreme Magic”: “What new can one say about Dubrovnik anyway?” I bring this up because it gave me a laugh and also because it is the only bad line in the whole collection, which is why it pops out of pages and pages of remarkably evocative, careful and well-observed prose that delineates, in a measured and elegant manner, one of the most remarkable American literary lives of the 20th century.

What new can one say about Truman Capote anyway? He said much of what there was to say himself — in fact, about three-fifths of the way through “Portraits and Observations,” in an introductory essay to a volume of his early work, Capote gives himself a review: “But something like ‘A House on the Heights,’ where all the movement depends on the writing itself, is a matter of how the sentences sound, suspend, balance and tumble; a piece like that can be red hell, which is why I have more affection for it than ‘A Ride Through Spain,’ even though I know the latter is better, or at least more effective.”

more from the LA Times here.