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Perhaps no twentieth century writer was so observant and elegant a chronicler of his times as Truman Capote. Whether he was profiling the rich and famous or creating indelible word-pictures of events and places near and far, Capote's eye for detail and dazzling style made his reportage and commentary undeniable triumphs of the form. "Portraits and Observations" is the firs Perhaps no twentieth century writer was so observant and elegant a chronicler of his times as Truman Capote. Whether he was profiling the rich and famous or creating indelible word-pictures of events and places near and far, Capote's eye for detail and dazzling style made his reportage and commentary undeniable triumphs of the form. "Portraits and Observations" is the first volume devoted solely to all the essays ever published by this most beloved of writers. From his travel sketches of Brooklyn, New Orleans, and Hollywood, written when he was twenty-two, to meditations about fame, fortune, and the writer's art at the peak of his career, to the brief works penned during the isolated denouement of his life, these essays provide an essential window into mid-twentieth-century America as offered by one of its canniest observers. Included are such celebrated masterpieces of narrative nonfiction as "The Muses Are Heard" and the short nonfiction novel "Handcarved Coffins," as well as many long-out-of-print essays, including portraits of Isak Dinesen, Mae West, Marcel Duchamp, Humphrey Bogart, and Marilyn Monroe. Among the highlights are "Ghosts in Sunlight: The Filming of In Cold Blood, "Preface to Music for Chameleons, in which Capote candidly recounts the highs and lows of his long career, and a playful self-portrait in the form of an imaginary self-interview. The book concludes with the author's last written words, composed the day before his death in 1984, the recently discovered "Remembering Willa Cather," Capote's touching recollection of his encounter with the author when he was a young man at the dawn of his career. "Portraits and Observations" puts on display the full spectrum of Truman Capote's brilliance. Certainly, Capote was, as Somerset Maugham famously called him, "a stylist of the first quality." But as the pieces gathered here remind us, he was also an artist of remarkable substance.


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Perhaps no twentieth century writer was so observant and elegant a chronicler of his times as Truman Capote. Whether he was profiling the rich and famous or creating indelible word-pictures of events and places near and far, Capote's eye for detail and dazzling style made his reportage and commentary undeniable triumphs of the form. "Portraits and Observations" is the firs Perhaps no twentieth century writer was so observant and elegant a chronicler of his times as Truman Capote. Whether he was profiling the rich and famous or creating indelible word-pictures of events and places near and far, Capote's eye for detail and dazzling style made his reportage and commentary undeniable triumphs of the form. "Portraits and Observations" is the first volume devoted solely to all the essays ever published by this most beloved of writers. From his travel sketches of Brooklyn, New Orleans, and Hollywood, written when he was twenty-two, to meditations about fame, fortune, and the writer's art at the peak of his career, to the brief works penned during the isolated denouement of his life, these essays provide an essential window into mid-twentieth-century America as offered by one of its canniest observers. Included are such celebrated masterpieces of narrative nonfiction as "The Muses Are Heard" and the short nonfiction novel "Handcarved Coffins," as well as many long-out-of-print essays, including portraits of Isak Dinesen, Mae West, Marcel Duchamp, Humphrey Bogart, and Marilyn Monroe. Among the highlights are "Ghosts in Sunlight: The Filming of In Cold Blood, "Preface to Music for Chameleons, in which Capote candidly recounts the highs and lows of his long career, and a playful self-portrait in the form of an imaginary self-interview. The book concludes with the author's last written words, composed the day before his death in 1984, the recently discovered "Remembering Willa Cather," Capote's touching recollection of his encounter with the author when he was a young man at the dawn of his career. "Portraits and Observations" puts on display the full spectrum of Truman Capote's brilliance. Certainly, Capote was, as Somerset Maugham famously called him, "a stylist of the first quality." But as the pieces gathered here remind us, he was also an artist of remarkable substance.

30 review for Portraits and Observations: The Essays of Truman Capote

  1. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Portraits and Observations, what a fitting title for this collection of poetic oddities and fluid cognizance. Capote's work is what you label belletrist, because be it fiction or nonfiction, the magnetism of his artful prose is the transfixing element. I was enthralled by “Master Misery,” and since then, I’ve bought Portraits and the nonfiction piece that helped transform journalism: In Cold Blood (which he discusses in this collection). “I believe a story can be wrecked by a faulty rhythm,” Cap Portraits and Observations, what a fitting title for this collection of poetic oddities and fluid cognizance. Capote's work is what you label belletrist, because be it fiction or nonfiction, the magnetism of his artful prose is the transfixing element. I was enthralled by “Master Misery,” and since then, I’ve bought Portraits and the nonfiction piece that helped transform journalism: In Cold Blood (which he discusses in this collection). “I believe a story can be wrecked by a faulty rhythm,” Capote once said. “Henry James is the maestro of the semicolon, Hemingway is a first-rate paragrapher. From the point of view of ear, Virginia Woolf never wrote a bad sentence. I don’t mean to imply that I successfully practice what I preach. I try, that’s all.” Try, he did—I would venture to say he did more than try: On winter nights, when the wind brings the farewell callings of boats outward bound and carries across rooftops the chimney smoke of evening fires, there is a sense, evanescent but authentic as the firelight’s flicker, of time come circle, of ago’s sweeter glimmerings recaptured. During the sixties, Capote spent some time around fame: Elizabeth Taylor, Harper Lee (in fact the character Dill, in To Kill a Mocking Bird, is supposedly him), Willa Cather, Louis Armstrong, and Tennessee Williams. He also spent some time quietly observing America (New York especially), and creating portraits of Europe through the written word. He was a writer’s writer and I wonder why he was never considered a travel writer, because I certainly would call him one. The essays in this collection are a vast bunch—this is what I loved most about them; although I could have done without some of the longer (and perhaps more popular) ones. One minute you’re in Brooklyn, but soon, you find yourself in Venice, and then Haiti. One minute you’re reading about movie stars and murders, and the next minute, you’re gleaning behind-the-scenes knowledge of the writing craft, and everything that went into, In Cold Blood, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and The Muses are Heard: “I wanted to produce a journalistic novel, something on a large scale that would have the credibility of fact, the immediacy of film, the depth and freedom of prose, and the precision of poetry.” It's disheartening to think about the downturn his life (and writing life) took, the addiction and controversy, or the book he talked about for years but didn't get to finish. Still, we have his classics. And most of all, we have the poetic simplicity he so firmly believed in: Soothing, and also disquieting. The blackness, the longer one gazes into it, ceases to be black, but becomes a queer silver-blue, the threshold to secret visions; like Alice, I fell on the edge of a voyage through a looking-glass, one I’m hesitant to take.

  2. 4 out of 5

    ALLEN

    Norman Mailer, not one to praise his fellow writers gratuitously, once called Truman Capote (1924-1984) "the most perfect writer of my generation." Mailer was on to something, and this anthology shows this versatile and engaging writer at his pre-IN COLD BLOOD best. Mostly from the Fifties, Capote's "observations" (some essay-length, at least one a full-length book) and "portraits" (biographical sketches of celebrities) show very well Capote's amazing gifts as a stylist and hard-nosed reporter o Norman Mailer, not one to praise his fellow writers gratuitously, once called Truman Capote (1924-1984) "the most perfect writer of my generation." Mailer was on to something, and this anthology shows this versatile and engaging writer at his pre-IN COLD BLOOD best. Mostly from the Fifties, Capote's "observations" (some essay-length, at least one a full-length book) and "portraits" (biographical sketches of celebrities) show very well Capote's amazing gifts as a stylist and hard-nosed reporter of facts. Here you can read Capote's portrait of Marlon Brando ("The Duke in His Domain," for ESQUIRE magazine), scrupulously accurate yet so excoriating Capote allegedly had to hide from Brando the rest of his life (it has also just recently been released as a standalone from Penguin). This carefully curated, deckle-edged 2003 hardcover (purple cover)* has gone up in price since its release five years ago, but not by much. That is the one that contains THE MUSES ARE HEARD. Used copies are relatively easy to find -- especially considering that PORTRAITS AND OBSERVATIONS is an irreplaceable summa of Capote joys inside one cover. After IN COLD BLOOD, the novella "Breakfast at Tiffany's," and the breakthrough first novel OTHER VOICES, OTHER ROOMS, this book is the place to go for Capote, especially if you want to see much of the best of his non-fiction. Also recommended for those with a serious interest in Capote: Gerald Clarke's Capote, still the best cradle-to-grave literary bio in this reviewer's opinion. _______ * The reason I'm awarding this volume (Capote on cover) three stars and not four is that the later version (violet background, disembodied torso) has the same name, but nearly 80 pages more text.

  3. 4 out of 5

    ALLEN

    Norman Mailer, not one to praise his fellow writers gratuitously, once called Truman Capote (1924-1984) "the most perfect writer of my generation." Mailer was on to something, and this anthology shows this versatile and engaging writer at his pre-IN COLD BLOOD best. Mostly from the Fifties, Capote's "observations" (some essay-length, at least one a full-length book) and "portraits" (biographical sketches of celebrities) show very well Capote's amazing gifts as a stylist and hard-nosed reporter o Norman Mailer, not one to praise his fellow writers gratuitously, once called Truman Capote (1924-1984) "the most perfect writer of my generation." Mailer was on to something, and this anthology shows this versatile and engaging writer at his pre-IN COLD BLOOD best. Mostly from the Fifties, Capote's "observations" (some essay-length, at least one a full-length book) and "portraits" (biographical sketches of celebrities) show very well Capote's amazing gifts as a stylist and hard-nosed reporter of facts. Not only will you be able to read Capote's portrait of Marlon Brando ("The Duke in His Domain," for ESQUIRE magazine), scrupulously accurate yet so excoriating Capote allegedly had to hide from Brando the rest of his life, but you'll get my favorite, THE MUSES ARE HEARD, about an American opera company that was the first to tour PORGY AND BESS inside the U.S.S.R. in Stalin's aftermath. (And nigh-unto-impossible to find as a standalone.) This carefully curated, deckle-edged hardcover (purple cover) has gone up little in price since its release five years ago*, but used copies are relatively easy to find -- especially considering that PORTRAITS AND OBSERVATIONS is an irreplaceable summa of Capote joys inside one cover. After IN COLD BLOOD, the novella "Breakfast at Tiffany's," and the breakthrough first novel OTHER VOICES, OTHER ROOMS, this book is the place to go for Capote, especially if you want to see much of the best of his non-fiction. Also recommended for those with a serious interest in Capote: Gerald Clarke's Capote, still the best cradle-to-grave literary bio in this reviewer's opinion. _______ * The earlier 2007 version (photo of older Capote), which confusingly bears the same name, is less extensive.

  4. 5 out of 5

    John

    This is one of those books that I had put aside early on a while ago, coming back to it now. Good thing that I did as I was certainly in the mood for it once I gave the first couple of essays a chance! My devoted fans are aware that I am a huge travel narrative fiend, pleasantly surprised to see that Capote does a terrific job with those entries. Another area where he really shines in this book has to do with the transition between the last gasp of Old New York (which pretty much died out prior t This is one of those books that I had put aside early on a while ago, coming back to it now. Good thing that I did as I was certainly in the mood for it once I gave the first couple of essays a chance! My devoted fans are aware that I am a huge travel narrative fiend, pleasantly surprised to see that Capote does a terrific job with those entries. Another area where he really shines in this book has to do with the transition between the last gasp of Old New York (which pretty much died out prior to World War II), and the modern city most of us would recognize. The later entries didn't interest me as much as some of them contain serious name-dropping elements, though still up to his high standard rather than just plain gossipy. The stories are arranged in chronological order of publication (a few being "flashbacks"). In my opinion the novella-length entries "The Muses are Heard" and "Handcrafted Coffins" would be better off reading afterwards; they had a bit of a "speed bump" effect for me in terms of flow. Bottom line: the quality is so high I'd have found the book easily worth purchasing had it not been available as a library book.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette (Again)

    4. 5 stars

  6. 4 out of 5

    Bryan Schwartz

    I was introduced to Capote’s oeuvre, as is so often the case, when my high school psychology teacher instructed me to read In Cold Blood for a personal assignment. I had bonded with Mr. Christopher over a number of things including our mutual love of American literature and my passing interest in military history. During one of our many discussions, he produced a yellowed and shelf-worn copy of In Cold Blood and told me to read it carefully. Considering that it took me just a few days to return i I was introduced to Capote’s oeuvre, as is so often the case, when my high school psychology teacher instructed me to read In Cold Blood for a personal assignment. I had bonded with Mr. Christopher over a number of things including our mutual love of American literature and my passing interest in military history. During one of our many discussions, he produced a yellowed and shelf-worn copy of In Cold Blood and told me to read it carefully. Considering that it took me just a few days to return it to him, it’s safe to say that I adored it. I have read only a handful of “modern” authors who can, so completely, capture their readers with the mere quality of their prose. And Capote is one of them. Too often, in my most humble opinion, modern authors rely on the content of their works (e.g. the plot, their characters, etc.) rather than the artistry of their prose. Capote’s primary strength as a writer rests in his careful manipulation of language. Each sentence, each paragraph, and each chapter serves a purpose and is constructed in such a way as to transport the reader. Portraits and Observations, by focusing on this prosaic artistry, is one of the best compilations of Capote’s shorter works. I laughed through The Muses Are Heard (a vastly underappreciated “non-fiction novella” on the Porgy and Bess performances in the Soviet Union), sobbed at the end of Lola (a tender tribute to his oft-photographed pet raven), chuckled through Nocturnal Turnings (a surprisingly personal retrospective essay), and was stunned by Handcarved Coffins (a deeply disconcerting “true crime” piece). While I recommend all of the above pieces, there’s something about the careful witty description in Music for Chameleons that encapsulates Capote’s style. The piece, a vivid nonfiction account of an evening with a “Martinique aristocrat,” appeals to each of the five senses and, in just ten pages, transports you to the Caribbean. It’s masterful. In short, this collection is worthy of your money and your attention. ...It also has a handsome cover.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kaeli Wood

    Absolutely fantastic. This made me want to read everything he’s ever written.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Taylor

    This is the end of an era! I bought this book in 2010 in the famed Powell's bookstore in Portland, where I was attending a conference (during the Vancouver - the city I lived in at the time - Olympics, no less). At the time I also bought Breakfast at Tiffany's which I read shortly thereafter. According to the 'date started' I entered here, I didn't start reading Portraits and Observations for 5 years, although I suspect I started it in 2010, didn't get far, and then started again in 2015. This sus This is the end of an era! I bought this book in 2010 in the famed Powell's bookstore in Portland, where I was attending a conference (during the Vancouver - the city I lived in at the time - Olympics, no less). At the time I also bought Breakfast at Tiffany's which I read shortly thereafter. According to the 'date started' I entered here, I didn't start reading Portraits and Observations for 5 years, although I suspect I started it in 2010, didn't get far, and then started again in 2015. This suspicion comes from the years-long experience of this book having been the monkey on my back. What a long and torturous journey! I love Capote's writing, and I loved some of the essays, but then I was terribly bored by others (ex. The Muses Are Heard) so I'd get discouraged and stop. Over these last 4 years (if not 9), I'd will myself to pick it up and finish whenever I was between other books, occasionally succeeding in doing so until I'd meet another snag and stop again. But about 1-2 weeks ago, I picked it up again, and this time I finished it! And what a consistent experience - yet again, I was obsessed with some stories and bored by others. I excitedly recounted one story to my husband while we made dinner while camping (Handcarved Coffins), and told it so well he wanted to read it (which is very rare)! Overall, during this most recent experience of taking a crack at it, the delight far exceeded the boredom, and for that reason as well as the fact I simply love Truman Capote's writing, I can't help but rate the book very highly, despite it all. When it comes down to it, this book has a special place in my heart, like a misbehaving but very charming child.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Maureen

    Ooohh, such lovely writing that the topic is irrelevant. This is a collection of over 500 pages of Truman Capote essays from 1946 to 1984. It covers time spent in various American cities, plus vignettes from many other parts of the world. The longest is a diary written during the tour of an American troupe performing Porgy and Bess in Russia in 1956, at the height of the Cold War. The name dropping of his friends and acquaintances is legendary so we have intimate portraits of Marilyn Monroe, Eli Ooohh, such lovely writing that the topic is irrelevant. This is a collection of over 500 pages of Truman Capote essays from 1946 to 1984. It covers time spent in various American cities, plus vignettes from many other parts of the world. The longest is a diary written during the tour of an American troupe performing Porgy and Bess in Russia in 1956, at the height of the Cold War. The name dropping of his friends and acquaintances is legendary so we have intimate portraits of Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando, the list seems endless. The most astounding thing about this book for me is its recreation of conversations copied verbatim, making the reader feel like another party to the actual conversation. A master of his time and now his work acts as a window on life from the 30s to the 80s.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    Having never read any Capote before, I feel this book was the perfect introduction. I wanted some thematically-appropriate reading while on vacation in New Orleans, as well as something substantive yet easy to pick up and put down. Capote's vignettes of people and places were lyrical, acerbic, vulnerable, all too revealing of the foibles of their subjects (and their author, who would sometimes retell the same allegedly-real anecdote in different pieces with significant details changed). Reading Having never read any Capote before, I feel this book was the perfect introduction. I wanted some thematically-appropriate reading while on vacation in New Orleans, as well as something substantive yet easy to pick up and put down. Capote's vignettes of people and places were lyrical, acerbic, vulnerable, all too revealing of the foibles of their subjects (and their author, who would sometimes retell the same allegedly-real anecdote in different pieces with significant details changed). Reading this makes you want to travel the world and then get together for a really good gossip over cocktails with a sharp-tongued friend.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jenifer

    a little bonkers, perhaps, but man could he write...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tim Julian

    I'm not entirely sure why I downloaded this - essays aren't usually my thing and anything smacking of "travel writing" (with the exception of early Bill Bryson) even less so, and after a couple of pages I was wondering whether I'd let myself in for a dull few days. Then the unique charm of Capote's prose began to work its magic and I was hooked. Pieces I particularly enjoyed were "Lola", an account of his pet raven, "Ghosts in Sunlight" on the filming of In Cold Blood, and his piece on Elizabeth I'm not entirely sure why I downloaded this - essays aren't usually my thing and anything smacking of "travel writing" (with the exception of early Bill Bryson) even less so, and after a couple of pages I was wondering whether I'd let myself in for a dull few days. Then the unique charm of Capote's prose began to work its magic and I was hooked. Pieces I particularly enjoyed were "Lola", an account of his pet raven, "Ghosts in Sunlight" on the filming of In Cold Blood, and his piece on Elizabeth Taylor, from whom he elicits this strangely moving line: “What do you suppose will become of us? I guess, when you find what you’ve always wanted, that’s not where the beginning begins, that’s where the end starts.” Another stunner is "Handcarved Coffins" which is billed as "a non-fiction account of an American crime" though one suspects he made the whole thing up. By the end I was wishing it was twice the length.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Raimo Wirkkala

    Quite alot of the material in this book was included in a previously-published collection, "The Dogs Bark", but this volume adds such essential pieces as, "Music for Chameleons" (as well as the preface to that book); the self-revealing, "Dazzle"; "Then It All Came Down (an interview with Robert Beausoleil); a piece about Marilyn Monroe entitled, "A Beautiful Child"; "A Lamp in a Window"; and the 2 concluding essays, remembrances of Tennessee Williams and Willa Cather. One can come to a greater a Quite alot of the material in this book was included in a previously-published collection, "The Dogs Bark", but this volume adds such essential pieces as, "Music for Chameleons" (as well as the preface to that book); the self-revealing, "Dazzle"; "Then It All Came Down (an interview with Robert Beausoleil); a piece about Marilyn Monroe entitled, "A Beautiful Child"; "A Lamp in a Window"; and the 2 concluding essays, remembrances of Tennessee Williams and Willa Cather. One can come to a greater appreciation of Capote's work through this kind of immersion in the full-range of his writings.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Morgan

    Capote may be my favorite writer in terms of technical ability. His turn of phrase and descriptive capabilities catapult me into his reality. Sadly, his subject matter I find a bit of a bore. I really am not fascinated by famous people he has known. An unrepentant snob, he is best when painting a portrait of his childhood in the South or the "common" man in NYC. Capote may be my favorite writer in terms of technical ability. His turn of phrase and descriptive capabilities catapult me into his reality. Sadly, his subject matter I find a bit of a bore. I really am not fascinated by famous people he has known. An unrepentant snob, he is best when painting a portrait of his childhood in the South or the "common" man in NYC.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Erin Lesica

    Hooked at the beginning and then unfortunately lost track

  16. 5 out of 5

    Charlie Mansfield

    I found this on Google Play Book store for a fiver as an eBook, which was useful because I needed to read Capote on Tangier for some travel research I’m starting before my visit.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Elise McClintick

    This is a wonderful book to have as a go to for stories. Capote "paints the picture" of numerous people and places with flair. It's a book that I don't want to shelve but keep on my nightstand. This is a wonderful book to have as a go to for stories. Capote "paints the picture" of numerous people and places with flair. It's a book that I don't want to shelve but keep on my nightstand.

  18. 4 out of 5

    pennyg

    Always a treat. Love his writing, can hear his voice, as distinctive as it was in my head as I read his stories and observations.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lorena

    Very few people can make old gossip new and fascinating again. Truman Capote elevated gossip to an art form, and it was his downfall in the end.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    When I was growing up, I knew Capote only as a celebrity on talk shows; he'd probably have shown up on the Match Game and the Love Boat if he hadn't been such a snob. So who knew that he was actually an incredibly gifted stylist? In a sentence, he can beautifully describe a person or a scene so that you see them exactly. This collection of non-fiction work (in some instances, like Handcarved Coffins, take that "non-fiction" status with a heavy grain of salt) is what the title says it is, Portrai When I was growing up, I knew Capote only as a celebrity on talk shows; he'd probably have shown up on the Match Game and the Love Boat if he hadn't been such a snob. So who knew that he was actually an incredibly gifted stylist? In a sentence, he can beautifully describe a person or a scene so that you see them exactly. This collection of non-fiction work (in some instances, like Handcarved Coffins, take that "non-fiction" status with a heavy grain of salt) is what the title says it is, Portraits and Observations - stories, with beginnings, middles, and ends, are few. Sometimes Capote has sharp insights into the people and places he is describing, and other times he is only describing himself (even when not talking about himself) in a way that is perhaps more flattering than accurate. But there is no denying the power of his sentences.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    Ignoring Capote's obsession with celebrity life for a moment, this book does a great job of artfully describing real events, real people, real places. Some of my favorites: Lola, about a bird that he adopts that thinks it's a dog, The Muses are Heard, about the cast of Porgy and Bess and their journeys into the Soviet Union, and Ghost in Sunlight, where he writes about the filming of In Cold Blood. Throughout the book he interviews murderers, ordinary people, and Marlon Brando. And yes, he is a Ignoring Capote's obsession with celebrity life for a moment, this book does a great job of artfully describing real events, real people, real places. Some of my favorites: Lola, about a bird that he adopts that thinks it's a dog, The Muses are Heard, about the cast of Porgy and Bess and their journeys into the Soviet Union, and Ghost in Sunlight, where he writes about the filming of In Cold Blood. Throughout the book he interviews murderers, ordinary people, and Marlon Brando. And yes, he is a little celebrity obsessed, but he's still a really great writer in my mind.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Annabelle

    It was a rainy day in September when I went into Fully Booked Cebu swearing not to buy any more books, as I was just there to drag Suyen away from yet another recipe book purchase. A glance at just one shelf, the one immediately in front of the entrance, was comforting--it was a bunch of boring essays. Suyen took an eternity of five minutes to come down, and in three I managed to end up with 7 books on the cashier counter--all from that single shelf! No regrets. This one is already the best of t It was a rainy day in September when I went into Fully Booked Cebu swearing not to buy any more books, as I was just there to drag Suyen away from yet another recipe book purchase. A glance at just one shelf, the one immediately in front of the entrance, was comforting--it was a bunch of boring essays. Suyen took an eternity of five minutes to come down, and in three I managed to end up with 7 books on the cashier counter--all from that single shelf! No regrets. This one is already the best of the lot, and to think I've only started on it!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tory

    Wow. I read Breakfast at Tiffany's and In Cold Blood in high school, but didn't have any real memory of them, which I guess would indicate that they didn't have much of an impact on me. Portraits and Observations, however, was lyrical, beautiful, and excellent. I want to buy a physical copy and flip through it, reading essays at random. Handcarved Coffins was chilling; The Muses are Heard was fascinating; the various portraits of famous people were eye-opening. Who knew that Marilyn Monroe curse Wow. I read Breakfast at Tiffany's and In Cold Blood in high school, but didn't have any real memory of them, which I guess would indicate that they didn't have much of an impact on me. Portraits and Observations, however, was lyrical, beautiful, and excellent. I want to buy a physical copy and flip through it, reading essays at random. Handcarved Coffins was chilling; The Muses are Heard was fascinating; the various portraits of famous people were eye-opening. Who knew that Marilyn Monroe cursed like a sailor?

  24. 4 out of 5

    Louis Profeta Profeta

    My writing was inspired by Mr. Capote, poetry of mine has taught me to gather two things, details, details and metaphor give depth to writing and Truman is great at both. Even the way he goes on tangents interests me, adding some humor. He carries many thoughts in a paragraph and it gets my interest plus his travels are extensive. A perfect teacher and a kind man of taste.Breakfast at Tiffanys, what can one say?

  25. 5 out of 5

    Bethany

    This book was incredible. I'm too tired to do a full review of it, maybe I'll do one later. But I can say that it was incredible to read his impressions of such famous people, and incredible to read his growth and change of style as a writer over the years. I loved the novellas. I found that towards the end, the conversation-themed essay/script things got tiresome, but they were enjoyable nonetheless. This book was incredible. I'm too tired to do a full review of it, maybe I'll do one later. But I can say that it was incredible to read his impressions of such famous people, and incredible to read his growth and change of style as a writer over the years. I loved the novellas. I found that towards the end, the conversation-themed essay/script things got tiresome, but they were enjoyable nonetheless.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    What a pleasure to find some new stories I haven't read! My favorite was about the bird Lola. If I was an English teacher, I would make every kid read it. This book also makes me wish there was a contemporary writer of pop culture that was even 1/2 as insightful and observant as he was. He clearly cared about his craft and I don't know of anyone today who could write a story like In Cold Blood or Porgy and Bess. Truly a joy to read! What a pleasure to find some new stories I haven't read! My favorite was about the bird Lola. If I was an English teacher, I would make every kid read it. This book also makes me wish there was a contemporary writer of pop culture that was even 1/2 as insightful and observant as he was. He clearly cared about his craft and I don't know of anyone today who could write a story like In Cold Blood or Porgy and Bess. Truly a joy to read!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jordanaboet

    So one month ago I bought Breakfast at Tiffany's just because I was curious to see the differences between the movie and the book. The thing is that I did not just felt in love with the book but with his way of writing too. The other day without knowing anything about it I bought this book (portraits and observations) and I just can't say anything except wow. I have loved it and enjoyed it so much and now I can't wait to read more of his books. It is amazing. So one month ago I bought Breakfast at Tiffany's just because I was curious to see the differences between the movie and the book. The thing is that I did not just felt in love with the book but with his way of writing too. The other day without knowing anything about it I bought this book (portraits and observations) and I just can't say anything except wow. I have loved it and enjoyed it so much and now I can't wait to read more of his books. It is amazing.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Seán

    Having visited Hotel Olaffson in Port-au-Prince in 2000, the Haiti chapter was exceptional travel writing. The Self Portrait chapter gave me some insight on how to write this type of work with students. These essays more than any other book illustrate Capote's strengths as an individual were as profound as his weaknesses were glaring. Having visited Hotel Olaffson in Port-au-Prince in 2000, the Haiti chapter was exceptional travel writing. The Self Portrait chapter gave me some insight on how to write this type of work with students. These essays more than any other book illustrate Capote's strengths as an individual were as profound as his weaknesses were glaring.

  29. 4 out of 5

    David

    I had not been familiar with his writing beyond what I had seen in movies and cultural folklore before I read this book - afterward, I realized he was a BRILLIANT social commentator! Stories are quite a snapshot of various decades throughout the 20th century.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Garnet Duke

    Fascinating, absorbing, deeply satisfying essays. A hefty book full of his incomparable witticism and wordplay, he draws you in so completely and with such life that often, at times, you feel he's sitting at your table, telling you essays stories himself. Fascinating, absorbing, deeply satisfying essays. A hefty book full of his incomparable witticism and wordplay, he draws you in so completely and with such life that often, at times, you feel he's sitting at your table, telling you essays stories himself.

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