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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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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