Why Truman Capote makes my heart sing.

I usually re-read one or another of Truman Capote’s works every six months or so. His works have a voice that speak into my mind’s ear even as I read in complete silence. The Grass Harp, a novella written in 1951, is one of my favorites. I never tire of joining shy eleven year old Collin, the narrator, an orphan sent to live with his aunts. I look forward each time to meeting all the characters who people that small Southern town.
One of my favorites: in a minor episode of the story, a little girl promises to reveal her secret name only in return for a piggyback ride down to the creek to wash her face. Collin tells us, “All the way to the creek she acted the cut-up, and when, with her hands thrust over his eyes, Riley stumbled blindly into a bullis vine, she ripped the air with in-heaven shrieks. He said he’d had enough of that and down you go. “Please: I’ll whisper you my name.” Later on I remembered to ask him what the name had been. It was Texaco Gasoline; because those were such pretty words.”
That sentence is like music, and has inspired me to give secret names to people and places for over 30 years.

2 thoughts on “Why Truman Capote makes my heart sing.

  1. Thank you for your comment…my first, since joining Naiwe! I suppose it is Capote’s small details, so finely drawn, that lead me to perceive the surrounding environment and its emotional atmosphere. An exemplary detail from In Cold Blood: Perry Smith spits his Doublemint (or was it Juicy Fruit?) gum into somebody’s hand before he climbs the stairs to the gallows. I accidentally came across the first chapters of Answered Prayers, published in Esquire in 1976/77 and was entranced with phrases such as that describing M. SoulĂ©, the restaurateur of La Cote Basque, “distrait as ever, pink and glazed as a marzipan pig……..his perfectionist eyes spinning about in search of cankered roses and awkward waiters”. So entranced that I searched for that book for about 10 years before it was finally published in 1987 in the US.

  2. I am currently completing my fifth or sixth reading of In Cold Blood, and over the years have read all Truman’s work. His style is unique, and while not exactly rounded, works its way into you. The novella you cited is especially dream-like in its simple eloquence. He does what every good writer should do: he transports you to another world. Thanks for the post.

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