SELECTED WRITINGS OF TRUMAN CAPOTE

Surprisingly enough, these Truman Capote writings cover 20 years; one would not have thought he'd been at bat that long. Not too surprisingly, they don't all hold up; but, generally, it must be said he scores more often than he strikes out. Certainly his talents are manifold: the quicksilver dialogue, the damning details, the mot juste, the psychologically perceptive blue mood or set. His influences abound, yet he remains an original, from the early Southern Gothic tales with auras of Williams, Faulkner, McGullers and, in that famous shocker Miriam, of Alfred Hitchcock, onwards through Breakfast at Tiffany's and its jazzed-up Christopher Isherwood type heroine, Holly Golightly, plus the New Yorkerish reportage of Porgy and Bess' Russian tour, of Marlon Brando, of travelogues via Ischia, New Orleans, Spain. All and more are here collected; most good, most entertaining. But is he a major writer? No, not by these samplings anyway. Is he even the sure stylist such a tough minded person as Norman Mailer takes him to be? No, not if we compare him to a newcomer like Updike, an oldster like Miss Porter. But he is an exquisitely exotic bloom on our all too exoteric literary landscape, full of variety, full of change. Given a few more imaginistic flights in as many years, he might yet emerge the American Coeteau. Not an unrewarding prospect at all.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1963

ISBN: 0394604954

Page Count: 460

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1962

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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