terça-feira, 23 de agosto de 2011
TRUMAN CAPOTE BY NEWSWEEK
Lauren C.’s Book Report
From the magazine issue dated Sep 22, 2008
Truman Capote once said of Jack Kerouac's works: "That's not writing. It's typing." Imagine what Capote would say about Lauren Conrad. The blonded star of MTV's "The Hills" just landed a deal to write three books of what is being called young-adult fiction, this despite the fact that the series, to be called "L.A. Candy," will focus on a normal California teenager who finds herself thrown in the midst of the celebrity circuit after appearing on a reality show. What an inspired idea! It sounds better than "Vanity Fair," doesn't it? But let's not mock too much. Anything that gets kids to turn off "The Hills" and read an actual book deserves all the attention it can get.
The Crying of Truman Capote
His MasterCard and his matchbooks fetched tidy sums, but the auctioning of Capote's effects was a mostly melancholy affair.
Newsweek Web Exclusive
Truman Capote, who's been dead since 1984, has been having a big year. There are the dueling movies: Bennett Miller's "Capote," which won an Oscar for actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and this fall's much-praised "Infamous" by Douglas McGrath. Both cover the years Capote spent writing "In Cold Blood," and the book itself is now selling like crazy again—more than half a million copies since the first film opened. And this week, an eclectic assortment of Capote's personal belongings came up for auction, attracting the kind of fan who would pay, it turned out, $2,750 for the author's plastic MasterCard or $400 for half a dozen matchbooks (four embossed with his name and one from the restaurant La Cote Basque). You can't make this stuff up, even if you're Truman Capote.
But Capote would have understood perfectly the lure of the celebrity auction, a way for ordinary people to glimpse the lives of the rich and famous after they're gone—even if poking through the detritus of someone else's life can be a little creepy and, in the case of Capote, less than spectacular. The contents of this sale—titled "The Private Life of Truman Capote"—were put on auction by Joanne Carson, the second wife of Johnny Carson and one of Capote's closest friends. She met the author in the 1960s at a party given by his publisher, Bennett Cerf, and when she divorced the famous talk-show host, Capote stuck by her. "When we split, everyone moved to Johnny," she recalls. "I had one person stay with me, and that was Truman. He took care of me when I was down, and I took care of him." Her Los Angeles home became Capote's West Coast base. And after his New York socialite friends—the swans, he called them—dropped him for revealing their secrets in an excerpt from his unfinished novel, "Answered Prayers," Joanne remained loyal. He died at her house. Afterward, she kept many of his things and even bought back books and furniture that had been dispersed from his New York apartment. "He said, I don't want my treasures scattered to the four winds," she says.
His "treasures" are now being scattered, according to Carson, to benefit her favorite cause, animal welfare. During the auction at Bonhams in New York, Carson, 75, who was wearing black slacks, pearls and big glasses, enthusiastically thanked successful bidders from her seat and kibitzed with the auctioneer as he described certain lots. "Truman really loved this," she said loud and clear of a Baccarat crystal obelisk, a gift to Capote from Halston. (It sold, cracks and all, for $300.) The small salesroom was nearly filled with a few dealers (for the books), people who'd known Capote and people who wished they had. Lisa Ketcher of Fairfield, Conn., who described herself as a homemaker and voracious reader, paid $9,000 for one of six "collage" boxes Capote made—hers has a picture of Emily Dickinson, among other cutouts, pasted on it, along with the words EMILY'S SNAKEBITE KIT in Capote's handwriting. Ketcher never met Capote but says, "I really love Truman. He was a real tortured soul. For me, it's very heartfelt."
Bonhams & Butterfields
How To Succeed In Show Business--Again
From the magazine issue dated Jun 18, 1990
During his complicated makeup for "Tru," Robert Morse's wavy hair disappears under a plastic skull cap. "That's my head condom," he lisps, already into the voice of Truman Capote. It's a joke the late author and social butterfly would have cackled at. The lisp, the cackle, the whine, the snorts, coughs and guffaws of Capote are part of a brilliant and poignant performance in Jay Presson Allen's one-man play. It won Morse, 69, what was clearly the most popular of the Tony Awards as best leading actor.
It's hard to say which is more dramatic--Morse's portrait of the gifted, gay, outrageous, pathetic Capote (who died of an alcohol and drug-ravaged liver in 1984) or Morse's comeback after a 13-year absence from Broadway. The star of such musical hits is the 1961 "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," Morse vanished from Broadway in the mid-'70s. Like Capote,he had a drinking problem although, again like Capote, he didn't drink while he was working."I drank after the theater," he says, "and I found I was allergic to alcohol--I broke out in drunks. I knew I had to go out and get some help, and I am a recovering alcoholic today."
But for more than a decade, Morse was in showbiz limbo. He had three kids in private schools, so he went to work in dinner theaters around the country. "I played in a hotel theater in Miami Beach, a converted A&P in Ohio, I did "where's Charley?' at the Opera Theater of St Louis." "Clean and sober," Morse made the rounds of the "other theater" in America for five years, then went to Hollywood. Moving to the hopefully named Magic Hotel, he got an agent who told him:
"You will not be out of work a single day." But, says Morse, "No one hired me. I did voices on cartoons, I did some theater, I got unemployment insurance."
When Allen came to him with her play, says Morse, "it was a dream come true." But in rehearsals, "I had a lot of trouble with the play. I'd get broken up with emotion when Tru had to talk about his alcoholism. I had to work hard to avoid any self-pity. Now I can deal with it."Capote's friend Joanne Carson told Morse that Tru had seen "How to Succeed" 10 times. "When I sang "I Believe in You,' Tru yelled, "That's my spirit up there!' He sang and danced around his apartment and fell flat on his face." Morse demonstrates, prancing with the impish elegance of Tru. He does not fall.
A Feast Of Literary Delights
It Was A Shaky Year For The Bottom Line In New York Publishing. But For Readers, It Was A Year Of Riches.
Malcolm Jones Jr. and Ray Sawhill
From the magazine issue dated Dec 29, 1997
BEYOND THE BOOK CRISIS
ON THE EVENING OF NOV. 28, 1966, A rainy Monday, an extraordinary event took place at the Plaza Hotel in New York City: a writer threw a party, a masked ball, in honor of Katharine Graham, owner of The Washington Post and this magazine. More than 500 of the nation's most powerful and famous citizens, from tycoons to movie stars to literary lions, were invited. And most of them showed up, making it the first time in history, and probably forever, that the rich and famous did the bidding of a writer. Of course, the writer was Truman Capote. He was then the best-known author in the country, having published ""In Cold Blood'' earlier in the year. He was also the favorite court jester of high society both here and in Europe. Capote knew everybody, from the Kennedys to members of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, and he invited them all to his Black and White Ball.
Capote's guest list supplies a sharp snapshot of the way things were--and how much the times have changed. Not one person from the world of rock and roll made the cut. That wasn't hip then. Neither, for that matter, were young people. Capote invited about three people under 30, including Mia Farrow, who appeared in her capacity as Mrs. Frank Sinatra. Only three artists got invited. And a couple of publishers and magazine editors. But there were lots of writers on the list, those being the days before celebrity elbowed accomplishment off the stage.
Writers today dwell in an uneasy shadowland somewhere between the wax museum and the midway. When William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg died this year, they were universally hailed as grand old men of American letters, which essentially negated the very idea that made them famous in the first place--the idea of a loyal opposition, of writing to resist, bellyache and generally nose-thumb the dominant culture. But the very notion of a dissonant counterculture, as embodied by the Beats, is no longer comprehensible. Alternative to what? The culture has been democratized, and everything carries the same weight.
Writers in the mid-'60s stood at the red-hot center of things. When The New Yorker serialized ""In Cold Blood,'' readers haunted their mailboxes for the next installment. In 1968 Harper's devoted an entire issue to ""The Armies of the Night,'' Norman Mailer's account of the march on the Pentagon. George Plimpton, in his fascinating new biography of Capote, an oral history like the life he coauthored of Warhol acolyte Edie Sedgwick, suggests that Capote was the most well-known writer of the century after Ernest Hemingway. Not because people read what he wrote but because they'd seen him on television, a gay man-child with a catty tongue. Writers--Capote, Mailer, Gore Vidal--were once staples on the talk shows. They added a touch of class, and besides, they were characters. Writers today are largely absent from those shows, because when TV producers want celebrity they go straight to the real thing. So, more tellingly, do publishers. Morrow reportedly paid $6 million for Whoopi Goldberg's book this year, and Little, Brown handed over $3 million for O.J.'s girlfriend's story.
Both books were celebrated failures, and both were held up as evidence that the publishing business has lost its collective mind, paying too much for bad books and generally neglecting the cause of literature. Publishing, you will hear, is in a crisis. Sales are down. Chain stores are aggressively running independent booksellers out of business. And electronic booksellers on the Internet are scaring everybody. In truth, the real crisis in publishing is a loss of nerve, and it reflects a much more widespread crisis of faith in the culture at large. Publishers do not know who their audience is, because American culture has gone through so many convulsions in the last quarter century that uncertainty is its only constant. Unlike some other segments of the entertainment industry, publishing has had a pallid couple of years. Or so goes the conventional wisdom. To prove their case, industry Cassandras point out that last spring HarperCollins, in the most drastic version of the retrenchment going on throughout the business, lopped off more than 100 titles off its trade list, forcing its parent company, News Corp., to take a $270 million charge against earnings. In the past two years, some publishers saw ""returns'' (bookstores return unsold books for credit) run as high as 50 percent, when anything more than 35 percent is considered disastrous.
But most reporting on publishing concentrates on big houses in New York, when a broader sampling tells a much different tale. Look outside New York, and you'll find publishers going about their business in fresh and sometimes very profitable ways. Even that perpetually beleaguered creature--the serious midlist literary book--is finding a home at university presses and at such small houses as Vermont's Steerforth Press and New Jersey's Ecco Press, where sales are up 76 percent over the last two years. Steerforth and Ecco refuse to get involved in bidding wars, and run such lean ships that they can make money on a title that sells 3,000 copies. (A large commercial house has to plan on selling at least 15,000 copies of a book now to justify publishing it.) The philosophy of San Francisco's very successful Chronicle Books is to avoid big advances to authors, keep the prices low and manufacture books so beautiful they sell themselves, according to publisher Jack Jensen. Last year Chronicle sold almost 50,000 hardback copies of ""Under the Tuscan Sun,'' a memoir by Frances Mayes about fixing up an Italian villa. ""If you publish books well,'' Jensen says, ""you will eventually have a hit.''
There are, it should be said, plenty of people inside New York publishing who feel the same, and none more so than Morgan Entrekin, publisher of Grove/Atlantic, who this year enjoyed his first millon-selling book in 20 years in the business when a first novel by an unknown writer named Charles Frazier took out a long-term lease on the best-seller list. ""Cold Mountain,'' a novel with a generous but not exceptional first printing of 25,000 copies, won the critics' hearts, the public's affection and the National Book Award. It was the surprise of the year, taking off first at independent bookstores and then making the leap to the chains.
""One of the great things about the chain stores is that you have very good bookstores in communities that really never had bookstores,'' observes Entrekin. ""Seven to 10 years ago, you could never have conceived of selling 2 1/2 million copies of "Snow Falling on Cedars' in trade paperback; 300,000 would have been a giant number. It shows that there is a huge literate reading public out there.''
Frank McCourt's literary memoir ""Angela's Ashes,'' now in its second year on the best-seller list, tells the same story. So does the continuing success of Oprah's Book Club. And in 1997 American writing had its best season, both critically and commercially, in years. Judging by the success of three novels in particular--""Cold Mountain,'' Don DeLillo's ""Underworld'' and Thomas Pynchon's ""Mason & Dixon''--it would seem that, for a change, people are looking to fiction to explain what is happening in American culture.
All three books are obsessed with American history, and all three try, in very disparate ways, to unravel the meaning of that history. Frazier's ""Cold Mountain'' is a romance, an antiwar novel and an adventure story, a tale of a man who deserts the Confederate Army in the midst of the Civil War to make his way home to the mountains of North Carolina. And while Frazier is the least didactic of writers, the point of his tale is clear: in the midst of the most convulsive moment in the nation's history, there were citizens who wanted nothing to do with that conflict--and that, paradoxically, it's of such disagreements that our nation's strength is made.
DeLillo's ""Underworld'' examines the dark side of that pluralism. A vast and faceted piece of fiction, it stalks the cold-war era from one end to the other to unriddle just how it was that society splintered in the last half century. Not coincidentally, DeLillo uses Capote's ball as a danse macabre, a sinister harbinger of things to come. Most ambitious of all, Pynchon rewrites the 18th-century novel, right down to the diction. A picaresque fantasia on the efforts of surveyors Mason and Dixon to draw their famous line between Maryland and Pennsylvania, Pynchon's tale seeks to isolate the verities of American life, from our addiction to coffee to our obsession with race. Amazingly, it is not a dour book. At heart it's a buddy story, sort of a deep-dish Hope and Crosby vehicle, and a wordmonger's delight. Ironically, while both Pynchon and DeLillo hail from the paranoid school of writing, both portray an America of buoyant vitality.
It is hard to despair of American publishing in a year when three such distinguished and challenging novels not only appear on bestseller lists but, in the case of ""Cold Mountain,'' sell well over a million copies. Moreover, there was even more reason to smile last month when a modest amount of sideline brawling broke out over the National Book Awards (Pynchon was not even among the five fiction finalists, and when Frazier won over the favored DeLillo, DeLillo's partisans loudly complained). It was reminiscent of--surprise--the brawling midcentury, when Vidal feuded with Capote, and Mailer wanted to arm-wrestle everyone in sight. Then again, no one is throwing a ball, masked or otherwise. And if it's up to the publicity-shy Frazier and DeLillo and the downright reclusive Pynchon, they wouldn't even show up. The only thing we know for certain is that wherever the culture is headed, for good or ill, it isn't going back to the '60s.
CHEAT SHEET: TRUMAN SHOW
From the magazine issue dated Oct 3, 2005
Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood" was a landmark in nonfiction. The new movie "Capote" tells the story behind the story. Want to prepare? Start with the original material. The 1965 book ($14) recounts a family murder in the town of Holcomb, Kans., and the lives of the two men accused of the crime. Next, look for a tie-in edition of Gerald Clarke's excellent "Capote: A Biography" ($17.95), which inspired the movie. "The dilemma for Capote was, he had to have a resolution," Clarke tells NEWSWEEK. In other words, he was waiting for an execution.
Of course, everyone knows Capote from "Breakfast at Tiffany's." But Clarke recommends two dark short stories: "Miriam" and "A Tree of Night" from the new paperback "The Complete Stories" ($14). Finally, a recent collection, "Too Brief a Treat" ($16), includes his letters to people you'll see in the movie, like Det. Alvin Dewey (played by Chris Cooper). To a friend: "It is a Big Work, believe me," Capote wrote, "and if I fail I still will have succeeded."
Posted by Francisco Augusto Vaz Brasil at 13:14