It looks as if the late Truman Capote's luck has changed at last. After having had the facts of his life raked over by everyone from passing acquaintances to a former lover and a distinctly unloving aunt, the author/celebrity has finally attracted the attention of a biographer worthy of his talent. Clarke, a former senior writer at Time, has captured not only Capote's literary brilliance but the combination of personal warmth and outrageous wit that, for most of his life at least, drew everyone from Pavillon regulars to prairie ranchers to him. This will undoubtedly remain the definitive biography for years to come. Recounting a life as highly publicized as Capote's was before his death in 1984, a biographer runs the risk of dealing in shopworn items. By combining hundreds of personal interviews with his subject and others with material drawn from Capote's personal papers, Clarke has managed not only to avoid the obvious but to come up with remarkably fresh and original insights into Capote's life and work. True, there are many familiar anecdotes to be found on these pages, but dozens more are in mint condition. Take, for example, the story of how William Paley thought he had invited a former US President (""Truman"") to his Jamaican hideaway and was mystified when Capote showed up. Included are liberal scatterings of Capote's acid remarks about the great and the not so great, as well as detailed accounts of his numerous friendships and equally numerous vendettas. Far more than merely a gossipy tour of Capote's world of literature and ladies who lunch, of luxury and lowlife, this is a touching, frequently hilarious, fully rounded portrait of a unique American phenomenon and his times.