Review: Truman Capote’s early stories worthwhile for fans
“The Early Stories of Truman Capote” (Random House), by Truman Capote
“The Early Stories of Truman Capote” collects 14 short fiction pieces by the writer, including some that were published in his high school newspaper in Greenwich, Connecticut, when he was a teenager.
Capote is best known for his novel “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” which was immortalized by a Hollywood film starring Audrey Hepburn, and by his nonfiction book “In Cold Blood,” a gripping novelistic account of the murder of a Kansas farm family and their killers. Many Capote fans may also be familiar with his memorable, poignant short story, “A Christmas Memory,” about a little boy’s holiday with an aging cousin amid poverty, love and loss.
If you’re expecting short fiction gems of that caliber in this collection, however, you’ll be disappointed. Most of the plots in these stories don’t seem quite fully realized; others feel derivative or formulaic, lacking the originality of Capote’s later works. But here’s the good news: The stories in the new edition are extremely readable, and as a window on the young writer’s emerging voice and creativity, they are worthwhile.
Capote’s ability to conjure a time, place and mood with just a few sentences is remarkable. A Gothic tone and sense of foreboding seems to hang over every scene as his characters, whether children or grown-ups, confront their personal demons. Some stories involve truly life-threatening terrors like snakebites or escaped convicts in the woods; others merely describe the everyday heartbreak faced by individuals who feel, for whatever reason, alone and unloved.