Thursday, March 21, 2024

Quote of the Day (Truman Capote, on Writing the Short Story)

“When seriously explored, the short story seems to me the most difficult and disciplining form of prose writing extant. Whatever control and technique I may have I owe entirely to my training in this medium.”— American fiction writer, essayist and screenwriter Truman Capote (1924-1984), interviewed by Pati Hill, “Truman Capote, The Art of Fiction No. 17,” The Paris Review, Issue 16, Spring-Summer 1957

Part of the reason I did not enjoy the just-concluded “FEUD: Capote vs. the Swans,” is that it did not practice the concision and control that Capote recognized as essential to the short story.

Instead, the mini-series about the imbroglio surrounding his controversial “Answered Prayers” moved slower than the author’s Southern drawl.

How unfortunate. Before fame, depression, and substance abuse got the better of him, Capote applied sustained effort not just to fiction but also to non-fiction, such as his New Yorker pieces “The Muses Are Heard” and “The Duke in His Domain,” a profile of Marlon Brando that is a masterpiece of malice.

Was Capote a “genius,” as he proclaimed? Perhaps not. But American literature would be poorer without the likes of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “The Thanksgiving Visitor,” and “A Christmas Memory”—none with the epic sweep of a novel, but all swift, sensitive, and memorable short fiction.

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