LOST FRIENDSHIPS: A Memoir of Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, and Others by Donald Windham
Kirkus Star

LOST FRIENDSHIPS: A Memoir of Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, and Others

Email this review


Love and honesty rule these twin portraits of Capote and Williams, whose grotesque sea changes from hale companions to fearful gargoyles may never he so richly observed again. As a diarist detailing his meetings with his two friends over nearly 40 years, and as a recipient of many, many letters from each, Windham is in a unique position to sketch their careers and character growth. Always modest, his restraint serves him excellently and allows them to coalesce page by page as drugs and alcohol shrivel their talents and put them into unrelieved mental skids. The Capote section, while satisfying, comes to less firm conclusions than the Williams sketch. Both writers put Windham through a meat grinder, but Williams attacked the job with more active paranoia. The instabilities each man feared most in himself were projected outward upon scapegoats, a role Windham seemingly was ideal for, i.e., as a fellow homosexual who had never been to bed with either man. Capote early slipped into unreality and retailed adventures (such as bedding Albert Camus) that ""should have happened"" to him as if they had--adventures that Windham as a firsthand observer knew to be false. He never valued what he had, only what he didn't. He pretended to have invented the non-fiction novel while only recycling what he derived from his stacks of true-detective magazines, then wound up with the ""nonwritten novel,"" Answered Prayers; he even believes his own totally invented ""interviews,"" which were climaxed by a nearly fictional obit for Williams published in Playboy. Williams also lived his life ""as if""--hiding behind a fabled heart disease to reinforce his egocentricity and to grant himself freedom from emotional responsibility. He sustained friendships only as they could be useful--and, eventually, with friend after closest friend, useful as scapegoats. As time passed, he was wholly alive only at his typewriter, in fuzzy, buzzing dream pages, afloat on speed and wine. Daily life and all ties became a phantasm. He was in emotional disconnect, but charming, when he reached out. Vivid and heartfelt, with side-glances at Montgomery Clift, AndrÉ Gide and others.

Pub Date: Feb. 25th, 1986
Publisher: Morrow