Fluff, clutter, and flashes of insight into an enfant terrible of American literature.

TOO BRIEF A TREAT

THE LETTERS OF TRUMAN CAPOTE

The flamboyant author’s collected correspondence brings him back to life in multiple roles, from teenage gadabout to ascendant literary star to conniving dipso burnout.

The unedited, spontaneous Capote (1924–84) we find here is a different creature from the meticulous craftsman who wrote, among other carefully honed works, In Cold Blood, the 1967 genre-bending masterpiece that fused journalism with a novel’s emotional impact and what he called “the precision of poetry.” In his letters, edited by biographer Clarke (Capote, 1988, etc.), he proffers heart and soul with raucous wit to a bevy of friends and fellow artists, as well as influential acquaintances; his affections gush among misspellings and jangled syntax. He disdains to veil his homosexuality, and he reveals early on a predilection for gossip laced with aphorism. This kind of literary cheap shot later led to rejection by the New York socialites he had so diligently courted for decades; they dumped him flat after a 1965 excerpt in Esquire of his final novel, Answered Prayers, a piece full of thinly disguised portraits of real people. Capote pens his missives from an endless variety of engaging venues—Portofino, a Sicilian villa, Katherine Graham’s yacht—but the years darken his outlook. “I loathe writing for films,” he confesses to one of his editors in 1953. “The fact that it is undermining is no mere myth.” To an aspiring writer he notes, “It may take 50 to 100 stories before style and subject and technique suddenly come together … like learning to swim.” The toll taken by the massive effort to produce In Cold Blood, from years of interviews with the killers to the wait for an execution to seal the final chapter, comes across poignantly in a letter to photographer Cecil Beaton: “At the moment feel only bereft,” he writes. “But grateful. Never again.”

Fluff, clutter, and flashes of insight into an enfant terrible of American literature.

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2004

ISBN: 0-375-50133-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2004

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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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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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