I had to go into town on Saturdays to the dentist and I joined the Sunshine Club that was organized by the Mobile Press Register." He goes on to tell about entering a work of writing on the children's page publication, which he had called "Old Mr. Busybody." The first installment of his writing appeared in a Sunday edition under his real name, which was Truman Streckfus Persons. The second installment never was published after the townspeople figured out he in actuality ' was serving up local scandal as fiction'. (Compote in Interview)
Capote and Writing Technique
When asked the question of "Are there devices one can use in improving one's technique? Capote answered by stating, "Work is the only device I know of. Writing has laws of perspective, of light and shade, just as painting does, or music. If you are born knowing them, fine. If not, learn them. Then rearrange the rules to suit yourself. "(Paris Review, Interview with Compote)
The Influence of Other Writers
When asked the questions, "What writers have influenced you the most?" Compote stated that, "So far as I consciously know, I've never been aware of direct literary influence, though several critics have informed me that my early works owe a debt to Faulkner and Welty and McCullers. Possibly I am a great admirer of all three; and Katherine Anne Porter, too. Between thirteen and fifteen are the if not the only ages for succumbing to Thomas Wolfe....Just as other youthful flames have guttered: Poe, Dickens, Stevenson. These are the enthusiasms that remain constant: Flaubert. Turgenev, Chekhov, Jane Austen, James, E.M. Forster, Mauppassant, Rilke, Proust, Shaw, Willa Cather-oh the list is too long, so I'll end with James Agee, a beautiful writer....I think most of the younger writers have learned and borrowed from the visual structural side of move technique, I have.
Fiction or Non-Fiction?
When the interviewer enquired as to the basis in truth of Compotes work or as to how much of the work was autobiographical in nature Compote answered stating very of his work was really based in reality or truth of his own life. This has been greatly speculated and discussed among literary minds.
Compote's Dreams or Goals in Life
Compote revealed during the interview, when asked the questions, "Were you ever tempted by any of the other arts?," that more than anything he wanted to be a tap dancer. Compote related that he had taken guitar lessons as well as studying painting but that he was not talented in those areas.
Control in Compote's Writing Style
In the interview Compote states that "Whatever control and technique I may have I owe entirely to my training in this medium." The Interviewer asked Compote exactly what he meant by 'control'. Compote answered stating that what he meant was "maintaining a stylistic and emotional upper hand over' one's material. Compote believed that "a story can be wrecked by a faulty rhythm in a sentence -- especially if it occurs toward the end -- or a mistake in paragraphing, even punctuation." Compote called Hemingway a first-rate paragrapher and said that Henry James was the semi-colon maestro. Finally he claimed that a bad sentence was never written by Virginia Woolf.
Compote's Style of Writing:
The New York University Review states that Compote's style of writing is, "Objective and is highly innovative prose; it combines the factual accuracy of journalism with the emotive impact of fiction. Further stated is that, " He understood the suspense that could be garnered by lengthy descriptions and by letting his characters speak extensively." A David Remnick state of Compote's writing that: "Truman Capote was "a writer of brilliance, capable of economic, evocative prose. His technique was mature, professional in the best possible sense." PBS American Masters states that, "Throughout his career (Truman Compote) remained one of Americas most controversial and colorful authors, combining literary genius with a penchant for the glittering world of high society. Though he only wrote a handful of books, his prose styling was impeccable and his insight into the psychology of human desire was extraordinary. His flamboyant and well-documented lifestyle has often overshadowed his gifts as a writer, but over time Compote's work will outlive the celebrity."
Summary & Conclusion:
Although many believed that Compote wrote for the fame and success the following that Compote once wrote give a deeper view into his life's work in writing:
One day, I started writing, not knowing that I had chained myself for life to a noble but merciless master. When God hands you a gift, he also hands you a whip; and the whip is intended solely for self-flagellation...I'm here alone in my dark madness, all by myself with my deck of cards-and, of course the whip God gave me." (Truman Compote)
The last ten years of Compote's life was one which Gerald Clark in his biography of Compote reveals as a life in the 'shambles of drugs and booze and law suits and ugly gossip and betrayals perpetuated both upon him and by him. This once delicately beautiful and richly talented young man became a talk-show buffoon, a booze-bloated bag of neediness, the subject of New York Post gossip headlines, and one of the first victims of the celebrity culture he had helped to create." (Epstein, 2004) Indeed this is a sad ending and as stated in the biography written by Clark, one that unfortunately "he did not retain the lucidity to write it himself. Its' theme might have been that charm is a gift that, when abused, can bring a man down hard." (Epstein, 2004) it appears to the reader that there exists much within the work of Capote that is based on his actual life, although Capote denied this throughout the course of his life and indeed since Capote is no longer among the living it is a matter of pure speculation henceforth.
Epstein, Joseph (2004) a Lad of the World, "Truman Capote and the Cost of Charms" Vol. 101 Issue 12 (Dec 12-2004) Online available at www.weeklystandard.com.
Truman Capote (nd) Speaking of Stories From the Page to the Stage [available Online at www. Speakingofstories.org]
Truman Compote, the Art of Fiction (nd) the Paris Review No. 17
Capote, Truman. A Christmas Memory. New York: Random House Inc., 1956.
Capote, Truman. Breakfast at Tiffany's. New York; Random House Inc., 1958.
Capote, Truman. In Cold Blood. New York: Random House Inc., 1965.
Truman Capote. (2005) in Cold Blood. New York University. 22 Jan. 2005. Online available at: [http://journalism.nyu.edu/portfolio/books/book140.html]
Plimpton, George (1998) Literary Review "Truman Compote" Online available at www.users.dircon.co.uk-litrev/1998/03/Ioenig_on_Plimpton.htm.
Capote, Truman. Other Voices, Other Rooms. New York: Vintage, 1985.
Plimpton, George (1988) Truman Compote: A House on the Heights. New York Capote
Truman. Answered Prayers. New York: Plume, 1988.
Capote, Truman. The Grass Harp. New York: Vintage, 1993.
Clarke, Gerald. Too Brief a Threat. New York: Random House, 2004.