Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Cannons are Silent

Thirty years ago tonight, Truman Capote appeared on Letterman.  I'm not sure that a mock turtle is any middle-aged man's most advised choice in necklines.

I probably do over-rely on it for fodder, but I really do love the odd things that pop up when you check out the Life archive to see what might have happened on a given day. Somehow it seems so improbable that it's just 30 years sinceTC might have been a TV guest, and yet at the same time it feels equally like ancient history.  Two years later and Truman was dead; Gore Vidal was being perhaps unkind, but not inaccurate, when he described the death as "a good career move." By those last few years, there really wasn't much left.

Earlier on, though, I'm not sure there was anybody better.  My favorite Capote isn't necessarily his most major or most popular works (and I really, really don't like In Cold Blood.  It may be a work of genius, but it's just too mean, at once too polished and too raw; too voyeuristic).  No, I'm oddly fond of The Muses are Heard, his quirky account of an opera company's foray into the old Soviet Union, playing Porgy and Bess and trailing Mrs. Ira Gershwin in their wake.  It's full of funny, telling little details, casually bitchy asides, and genuinely illuminating moments of East-West perplexity.  If you've never read it, you have a treat waiting.  Enjoy.


  1. sorry, i feel i'm repeating myself again, but sigh.

  2. It may be overly sentimental, but Capote's A Christmas Memory has always been a favorite of mine. It was my introduction to his writing, when I was thirteen or so, and it really struck a chord with me. Of course, in a few short years I'd be watching him on the Tonight Show, in all his glory (or what remained of it). Though he had become the butt of too many bad jokes, it never made me like him any less. He may have been a nasty piece of work, and legendary for all the wrong reasons, but he did it his way, and all these years later we're still talking about him.