along the East River Promenade. 4:00 PM. Photo: JH.
|Last week in the New York Times there was a piece on
the revival of interest in Truman Capote, in the
form of two films about to be completed on the author’s life.
Truman Capote died twenty-one years ago next month (August 25).
At the time of his death, the man whom Norman Mailer said “wrote
the best sentences of any one of (his) generation,” had been
on a long decline of notoriety, alcoholism and drug use. The Beautiful
People, the Society dowagers and the jet set who sought him out
and coddled him for decades; who had vied for his company and an
invitation to his Party of the Century – the famous Black
and White Ball, had long turned away from and ostracized him. Even
worse, his talent which had taken him to all the great heights
he could have dreamed of (without actually becoming a movie star) – magazine
covers, talk show guesting, movie cameos and financial riches,
had finally eluded and maybe even escaped him. He had had
a good ride, it was true, even a great one, but his ending obscured
his glory and indeed, decimated, albeit briefly, his great and
I was first aware of Capote as a teenager when a friend of mine,
a very smart girl who had a natural attraction to romantic notions
of the tragic and the bittersweet, was reading his Other
Voices, Other Rooms. Then came Breakfast at Tiffany’s. My
friend imagined herself another Holly Golightly, the novel’s
main character. Then came the movie with Audrey Hepburn which spoke
to a whole generation of even non-readers idealizing grown up life
in the big city.
Then, in the mid-1960s came In Cold Blood, which
was first serialized in four parts in the New Yorker.
The first sentence: “The village of Holcomb stands on
the high wheat plains of western Kansas, a lonesome area that other
Kansans call “out
there.” A terrible murder of an upstanding, plain and
simple, milk-fed family by two aimless, screwed up thugs from the
of the same America.
by Irving Penn, 1948.
I discovered it accidentally, thumbing through a new (for that
week) issue of the magazine and seeing Capote’s byline at
the end of the piece. (In those days, the New Yorker had
no table of contents and bylines were always at the end of a story
) Because of my fond memories of Breakfast… I
began to read and soon found I could not stop. For the next three
weeks, I lived with religious anticipation from week to week for
the following Wednesday (when the New Yorker came out on the stands),
when I could devour the next segment.
In Cold Blood was the most exciting, most horrifying,
most compelling read of the moment and the intense public interest
it created lifted Truman Capote’s image into the stratosphere.
He became one of those public characters who seemed to be blessed
with wit, wisdom, glamour and more than a touch of the offbeat.
I saw him interviewed for the first time on the David
Susskind Show, a local Sunday night talk show here
in New York. The persona that later became a kind of mid-20th century
Palm Springs version
of Oscar Wilde was a fairly goodlooking, youthful,
professorial-looking, maybe advertising executive-ish man in a
grey flannel suit, Brooks
Brothers buttondown shirt and tie. He had blonde hair, a large
head with a high smooth brow and a very blondish face. And there
was a bit of the sashay as he sauntered onto the set
and took his seat.
Despite the conventional style of dress, there was already something
quite far-out (although not quite in-your-face) about him, at least
for those pre-Liberation times. And then, of course, there was
the voice, which on first hearing, came as a shock.
It was an almost-whiny squeak, a drawling, dentalized ootsie-fruitsie,
lips-pursed, tongue slipping sibilance. Like some hipped up Baby
Huey. No one in public life talked like that. Or sounded like that.
Or would have wanted to. No one would have dared, it was so outrageously
effeminate. So Out There. And with all the markings of a serious
That night there were four of us watching Susskind – two
young women, another man and myself. He was, it seemed, frou-frou,
intelligent, slightly acerbic, but not really, and definitely the
Fun Guest. However, listening to Capote’s utterings on Susskind
this night, the women started to laugh. And as he continued answering
Susskind’s questions, their laughter turned into uncontrollable
hysterics. Despite the distracting timbre and mannered-ness of
the man’s voice that seemed almost something of a joke, he
was listened to very carefully, and taken very seriously; far more
seriously even, in retrospect, on certain matters than he deserved
The host would ask him about Jackie Kennedy (still yet to marry
to Onassis). Taking a deep breath, looking up at the ceiling, then
languidly looking around himself, as if to see who was listening,
finally, he might say:
“Waaaaal, all right, if you really want to know about Jackie,” and
her name rolled quietly off his tongue. Then he’d let out
a few pearls of dish. Although not really all that pearly. He was
never a man of bon mots, or seemingly a man of letters. He was
a gadfly; a freak gadfly who could write up a storm. And whatever
he had been before, this time in his life he now resembled, on
screen, another television character of the 1960, comedian Jonathan
Winters’ character, Maude Frickert, a cantankerously
funny old drag queen.
Edward Sorel summed up the feelings of many of Truman's
friends after the publication of "La Côte
the cover of Life in 1967 between Scott Wilson
(who played Dick Hickock) and Robert Blake (who played
thereafter, he was one of the most talked about men in
America, lionized and worshipped by the press and the television
interviewers who took his every word (mainly gossip) as gospel;
and was, as well, adored by his reader/fans while envied
by many of his peers for his brilliant success. He was also
a genius, it was often said and written, at publicizing himself.
Although it was never discussed (as far as I know) in his interviews,
he was also one of the first openly gay celebrities. This was quite an accomplishment
for the times also. Although they were “a-changin’.” There
were others whose sexuality came into question (Liberace, for
example, who always denied it right up to his dying day). Capote matter-factly
let it be known to anyone who wanted to know, that his longtime companion was
a man named Jack Dunphy – a man who had been married when
Capote met him, and who had left his wife for him, and remained his partner for
the rest of his life.
Then in 1966 came the Party, The Black and White Ball. Ostensibly
for Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham, although
no one paid much attention to that fact. Exercising his “genius” for
PR, Capote titillated the public and his legions of friends and acquaintances
with so much advance notice that by the night of the event, practically the whole
country knew what was going on at the Plaza. The following morning, the New
York Times published the guest list; and the celebrity magazines oohed and
ahhed over it for months. Now he glorified by and glorying in it all.
Of course, after the incredible success of In Cold Blood, and the ballyhoo
of the Black and White Ball, the insatiable maw of the star-making machinery
wanted to know what was next. How was he going to top himself? What would the
book be? And who would star in the movie?
takes to the floor with his guest of honor, Kay
Graham at his masked ball. Below: Bill
Paley beams between Gloria Guinness and his wife
In 1975, he published two short stories in Esquire magazine: “Mojave” and “La
Cote Basque 1965.” By now he was known more as a social gadfly than anything
else because the writer’s output had dwindled to beautiful memory and not
much more. “La Cote Basque,” however, was reported to be a “chapter” in
his upcoming novel Answered Prayers which chronicled the conversations
at various tables in the once socially fashionable restaurant, caused a sensation,
and the subsequent suicide of a socialite.
Ann Woodward, a long-time-ago showgirl who married
the blueblood heir to a banking fortune had shot her husband to
death in their house in Locust Valley, Long Island twenty years
before in 1955. At the time of the death, it was reported that
Mrs. Woodward mistook her husband for a prowler who had broken
into the house, and she accidentally shot him.
Capote’s version of the death, as fictionalized in “La Cote Basque
1965” (named after a famous society restaurant of the day), had the wife
knowingly shooting her husband because he had been having an affair and planned
to leave her, and concocting the prowler story as an alibi.
The original news story placed the husband in the hallway between
bedroom. Capote’s story placed him in the shower where her gunshots shattered
the shower door. According to Capote’s story, the dead man’s social
dowager mother (Elsie Woodward) stepped in and used her money
and influence to prevent the matter from going to trial – all to save her
two grandsons from losing both parents.
Whether or not Capote’s version of the story was true, Ann
Woodward did indeed kill herself with an overdose after having
read the galleys to the story.
(One of her sons killed himself prior to her death and her surviving son killed
himself several years ago, jumping from a window in his Upper East Side apartment.)
So Capote now, in the opinion of some people had blood on his hands.
incident in the “La Cote Basque” which featured a restaurant full
of well known women such as Jackie Onassis, Lee Radziwill, Slim Keith,
Gloria Vanderbilt and Carol Marcus Matthau gossiping
about each other, the storyteller recounted a thinly disguised William
Paley, well known to be a womanizer, having a fling with a thinly disguised Marie
Harriman (first wife of Averell Harriman) in his hotel
apartment bedroom where after she leaves he discovers she’s bloodied the
sheets with her menstrual cycle. Mortified with embarrassment, the media tycoon
clumsily tries to clean them himself to avoid anyone knowing about her presence,
including his wife, a thinly-disguised Babe Paley. The Paleys
were, up to that moment, Truman Capote’s most famously referred to Best
famous photograph: Harold Halma's picture on the
dustjacket of Other Voices, Other Rooms (1948)
caused as much comment and controversy as the prose
inside. Truman claimed that the camera had caught
him off guard, but in fact he had posed himself and
was responsible for both the picture and the publicity.
knife of betrayal cut both ways. Capote’s
sensational story ended his relationship not only with the
Paleys but many of their famous social friends. He was a
pariah overnight, although his celebrity social life became
more famous through his “friendships” with Andy
Warhol, Halston, Liza Minnelli and the whole “Studio
54” crowd. His drug-taking and his drinking became
more prominent as well.
By 1980, he published “Music for Chameleons,” a collection of short
stories and writings including the “Mojave” chapter which was originally
said to be part of the still anticipated novel “Answered Prayers.” One
of the stories in the new collection, “Handcarved Coffins,” was a
grisly murder case, purported to have actually occurred in some unnamed western
state. Lester Persky the film producer had brought the rights
By this time, it was said that Truman Capote was something of a broken man, even
in the eyes of the feasting celebrity media. There were incidents of drunkenness
during his television appearances including one where he was so incoherent he
had to be removed from the show. There was continued self-promotion about this
novel-in-progress “Answered Prayers” although no hard evidence of
That same year, 1980, I was living in Los Angeles, where I moved to from New
York to change my life and become a “professional writer,” I got
a job with Lester Persky, as his “West Coast assistant.” Lester and
his producing partner Dick Bright had arranged financing on several successful
films including the now classic “Shampoo” and he had bought a house
in Bel Air in order to have a bi-coastal presence in the movie colony.
Lester was a short, mustachioed, dynamic, often oft-putting, sometimes charming
(within my earshot but never to me), somewhat loud (when he wanted to be), a
man who cultivated friendships with authors and artists and socialites. CZ
Guest, her daughter Cornelia Guest, “Bubbles,” the
Vicountess Rothermere, and Truman Capote (as well as
the whole Studio 54 gang) were among his frequent acquaintances. Off-stage, away
from the socializing, Lester exercised no charm and as an employer, no social
friendship. He was not quite a screamer, in a world full of them, although he
was barely courteous, usually gruff and abrupt, at times condescending and supercilious
and because there was very little to do, working for him was a drag. A much needed
salary and a drag.
However, in the course of what turned out to be my brief encounter as Lester’s
employee, one morning in September, he informed me that “Mr. Truman Capote” would
be coming to LA for a few days and that I was to pick up the author Friday afternoon
at LAX and take him to the Beverly Wilshire Hotel where he would be staying.
Life in this movie producer’s office where everything was either “in
development” or “in turnaround,” and not in production was
deadly dull, so the prospect of meeting Capote was very exciting even if only
to satisfy curiosity: What was he really like?
Friday morning a light drizzle covered the sweeping view of the city that could
usually be seen from the terrace of Lester’s house. I couldn’t help
wondering if the writer were still coming.
The poolman was knocking at the back door. He needed to see Mr. Persky to show
“ In this weather?” Lester whined over the intercom from his bedroom.
A few moments later, Lester, wrapped in a Burberry, leather slippers flapping
against his milkwhite stocking-less heels, scurried out to the poolside. “This
better be interesting,” he warned the poolman.
The poolman lifted the lid off the filter, exposing a bloated, floating carcass
of a drowned rat – muddy brown and about eight inches in length, excluding
Lester grimaced and recoiled. “Is this someone’s idea of a joke?”
"He musta come for a drink, fall in, and drown,” the poolman said.
"But what was he doing here for a drink in the first place, in the middle
of Bel Air, California?”
"Probly because it’s the closest water…”
"You mean they live around here?!” Lester was incensed by
"Oh sure, these hills are full of ‘em. You can even see them in the
trees sometimes,” the poolman laughed at the thought.
"You mean they will always come for a drink in my pool?” Lester asked
"Unless you ‘sterminate.”
"Exterminate what? West Los Angeles?” Lester was furious. “Well
you better get it out of here,” he ordered sharply and turned and trundled
back into the warm dry house. “I’ve got Truman Capote coming this
weekend and I don’t want any rats in my pool. I hope this isn’t some
kind of omen,” he said to nobody in particular, with almost a lighthearted
irony in his voice.
from top left: Truman with
his father in one of their few moments
together, 1932; Truman and Jack Dunphy. "We
amused each other all the time," explained
Jack. "That's a very rare thing";
Marilyn Monroe and Truman at El Morocco
in 1954; Audrey Hepburn (between Truman
and her husband Mel Ferrer) played his
heroine Holly Golightly in Breakfast
afternoon before leaving for lunch, Lester
gave me my final instruction for the airport: “Keep
an eye on him. You never know what shape he’s going
to be in,” he warned. “And for God sakes, don’t
let him drink!”
More than fourteen years had passed since I had seen the “Tiny Terror” as Aileen
Mehle writing as “Suzy” had nicknamed him in his palmier
days. Now as I was watching the arriving passengers at LAX move through the long
airport corridor, I had to strain to spot the little man.
It seemed as if the arrivals had all streamed through and I was wondering if
he’d missed his flight when I saw the top of his head covered by a casual
narrow brimmed hat, drifting slowly along at the tail end of the crowd. He seemed
to be almost clinging to the wall, moving with a slight tentativeness, like a
brave, but lost child traveling without chaperone in a strange city. Most of
the crowd had swept by him, leaving him behind, like dust in the road.
I approached him and introduced myself. He paused, looking blankly up at me for
a moment, as if in the midst of a trance, and then said: “oh…..Lester,” with
a wan smile of reverie, and then we continued on to the baggage claim.
“You’ll have to ex-cuse me ...” He said very slowly
dragging out each syllable, “but I’ve been up for sheh-ven-dee-too-ahh-whirrs ....” His
usual tinny tenor was weaker from sniffling and wheezing, but he painstakingly
repeated himself: he had been up for 72 hours in New Orleans shooting a photo
session for People Magazine “with two dozen of theee moss-bee-yu-ti-ful-hmmm-drag-queens-you-have-everseeeeeen.”
He repeated his story; from the baggage claim to the parking lot, to the car.
He breath reeked of booze but he seemed rather dazed than drunk.
In the car, on our way, he recalled the drag queens again. “And my d-d-deah,
they didn’t work one stt-itch, compared to me,” and then he suddenly
guffawed, a remarkable, rolling, guttural laughter a couple of octaves below
his famous speaking voice, with an energy in sharp contrast to his dazed comportment.
As we rolled down the freeway into town, I drove and Truman talked. It was all
unsolicited, stream of consciousness of the little man seated next to me looking
out the window. He gossiped a little in what seemed like an effort to impress
me with his inside knowledge. The story he told (which I had heard him tell before
on television) about Barbara Hutton’s scandalous cousin Jimmy
Donahue, I knew to be false. He moved from that to Dick Cavett whom
Capote felt baited and then goaded him on his talk show about Capote’s
well known sex life. He recounted the on-camera put-downs which he responded
with. The thought provoked more guffaws and giddiness in that alternating baritone.
None of it was really for my benefit. He was on automatic pilot.
Until he started talking about his family. His father, whom he
had rarely seen in his life, and who was then still alive, had had, he said,
six wives. “All much younger and all much richer.” (This fact, I
later learned, was not true.) He was “a real charmer; a real charmer,” he
reiterated and laughed again in that same disarmingly macho resonance. “Yes
he was; fooled my mother one hundred and fifteen percent.”
“Someday, if I ever finish “Answered Prayers,” he continued,
dreamily gazing out at the Santa Monica Mountains up ahead, “I’m
going to tell the story of my father.”
It was clear that for Truman, then in his mid-fifties, his father, also still
alive and in his late eighties, remained, as if eternally, the image of a young,
handsome, vital man, just as the son, the teller of the story, remained a small
child, a delicate, even frail boy possessed by his reminiscence.
From his father he moved on to his maiden aunts in
Alabama, with whom he was left by his mother after his parents
divorced when he was four. One of them, Cousin Sook, a spinster
in her sixties, became his parent, playmate and spiritual guardian.
Another, whom he described as one of the two or three richest people
in southern Alabama, “during the Depression,” had a
“And when one of her tenant farmers was late with his rent, even if by
so little as a day, she would call him to the house. And out there on the lawn
in front of everybody standing there, watching she would take that whip and give
him six lashes….” And then he laughed himself giddy.
“Actually whipped him?” I couldn’t help asking, not at all
certain of the veracity of his story.
“Yup,” he replied with the confidential assuredness of a teller of
tales, and then convulsing once again at the thought of her (or my gullibility).
left: Truman with Bill and Babe Paley
at their house in Round Hill, Jamaica. Top,
right: Truman, Lee Radziwill, and Norman
Mailer at a 1972 party. Above, right: Joseph
Petrocik and Myron Clement helped Truman through some
bad times in the late seventies and early eighties.
were met on arriving at the Beverly Wilshire by
the assistant manager waiting like a chief of protocol at
the entrance. The valet took my car and he led us to the
elevator to the floor where Truman would be staying. The
rooms on this particular floor each had the name of a California
vineyard on them, and as we passed, following the assistant
manager to Truman’s room, he cracked, “Waaal,
we’re obviously on the alcoholics floor ….”
Once in the room, Truman said to the assistant manager, “Where’s
Oh, on its way.
“Waaal, you better hurry up!” he said as he went into the bathroom,
not closing the door, as the assistant manager and I stood side by side on the
edge of the room.
There was silence for a moment from the bathroom, and then a loud: “ssshhhhhhhmmmmmffffff….” The
sound of cocaine being inhaled. And then again. And then again. Each louder than
the last. The assistant manager and I continued standing there like two deaf
mutes, obviously well aware of the circumstances.
Moments later, we were released from service and gone from the man’s room.
Saturday morning, I later learned, Truman met with Lester and then returned to
his room at the Beverly Wilshire. Two days later, a Monday, when he didn’t
respond to his phone calls, he was found unshaven and half-conscious, aswirl
in sheets soiled by incontinence and surrounded by empty Stolichnaya bottles.
The night before, after a visitor had left him, Truman got into his odyssey of
coke, booze and pills and never left the mattress until he was discovered by
Lester and a friend the following afternoon. The little man/boy all by himself.
Lester, now the caretaking friend, with the help of a friend, cleaned Truman
up and removed him and his belongings to the house in Bel Air.
Up at the house, the listless man sat in the living room while his bed was being
made up upstairs.
“Downs? Why downs?” Lester was demanding to know like an
impatient and confounded father.
Silence from Truman.
“Don’t you know you can’t write when you’re stoned because
it gets you all riled up and you can’t write when you’re riled up?”
“Don’t you realize you have this great talent and that you have
to finish Answered Prayers? You have money, you have friends, you
have houses, apartments; you’re world famous!” Lester tried to reason
with his silent exhausted friend. Finally, after more admonishments, more light
reproaching, like the words of a wiser, older brother, the patient was taken
upstairs to rest.
Just before the end of the day, Lester came into the office. “We’ve
got to do something to help Truman. We ought to try and find someone for him,” looking
at me with a directness and a silence that indicated that I was the “someone” he
had in mind.
“ It would have to be a man who was younger,” he added, making things
clearer; “Irish maybe….glasses, like a professor, or teacher; that
type. Someone who could live with him.
“He wouldn’t have to have sex that much.” Oh? “He doesn’t
need a lot of sex. You know that guy would have a great life. Truman has a fabulous
life, so the guy would never be bored.”
“A fabulous life,” so I could see.
The whole idea seemed o preposterous, yet was it? He knew Truman quite needed,
desperately even, to be looked after and cared for. But who would that someone
be? No one I knew, and certainly not the man Lester was addressing all this to.
The next day, the tired Terror was recovering. With someone supporting each arm,
he was walked out to the poolside. Looking like a wrinkled, oversized embryo,
his little pink balloon-like belly holding up his black swimtrunks, his feet
barely touching the ground as if his flesh were too tender for a hard surface.
He was set down on the chaise with care and trepidation, his small bony limbs
straining. Ensconced he lay back, weary and battle-worn where he rested in the
cloudy afternoon sun, until he was helped back up to his bed an hour later.
On the fourth day of his convalescence, he was looking and feeling better. He
had been anxious to return to New York, and that afternoon, accompanied by Lester,
he was leaving. Watching their limousine roll down the driveway onto Bel Air
Road, I was left with the nagging paternal questions which Truman probably elicited
many times in others: would would happen when he got home? Would there be someone
there? Or would he be alone and unable to cope with his addictions?
I later learned that he did attempt to help himself. Signing himself into hospitals.
He fought on. There were periods of temperance, but all to brief, and punctuated
with John O'Shea and John's daughter Kerry,
whom Truman later rechristened Kate Harrington.
bartender by profession,
Rick Brown nonetheless
tried to keep Truman
away from the vodka
Guest was one of his few society friends who stuck
by him after the fall.
January 1984, he was in Los Angeles again, staying with his friend Joanne
Carson (the second wife of Johnny,
not to be confused with the third wife, Joanna).
He checked into Cedars Sinai in West Hollywood, diagnosed with
phlebitis, which had also caused a clot on his lung. Treated
and released, he returned to New York feeling for the first time
in his life that he had a health problem over which he had no
control. The doctors had made it clear that all those years of
hard living, drugs and booze, stress and pain, had caught up.
He was not terminally ill, but he was a dying man.
In mid-August of that year, he made plans to return to California on the 23rd,
the day after his friend Jack Dunphy’s birthday. Truman, who visited Los
Angeles two or three times a year (he once owned a house in Palm Springs), always
stayed with Mrs. Carson for about a month each time. She had set aside a bedroom
and sitting room which were “his.” He kept clothes, belongings and
objets there; it was his home in California.
A few days before his arrival, he called saying that he wished to come earlier,
two days before Jack’s birthday. When he asked Mrs. Carson to make his
plane reservation for him, she asked what date she should give the airline for
his return to New York. “Oh, never mind,” he said; “just get
a one-way.” Then when he learned that Mrs. Carson would be taping part
of her cable TV healthy and nutrition program at home, he changed back to his
original date of arrival.
He looked frail and tired when Joanne Carson picked him up at the airport. Back
at her house, he had a swim, an early dinner and went to bed.
He was up early the next morning, had his swim and breakfast and began his day
with his hostess. They had been friends for more than twenty years. When he stayed
with her he neither drank nor drugged, except for his prescriptions. On this
particular morning they were planning birthdays – his which he planned
on celebrating early while in LA and hers at the end of October. When she asked,
in passing, how long he intended to stay on this visit, he replied, “oh,
I don’t know. This time I may stay forever.”
He spent that afternoon working on a piece which was to be his birthday gift
to his friend. It was a story about Willa Cather whom he had
befriended long ago in New York, back before he was a published writer.
Late that afternoon, Joanne Carson prepared a simple dinner of his favorites:
cottage cheese, scrambled eggs and homemade bread pudding. He took a second helping
of the pudding, pronouncing it as good as Cousin Sook’s. After dinner,
the two spent the evening, typically, talking late into the night until Truman
dozed off on Mrs. Carson’s bed.
Saturday morning she found him struggling to get his swim trunks on. He’d
suddenly felt very fatigued, so she suggested he nap until she’d prepared
his breakfast. When she went in with his tray a half hour later, he was sound
asleep. So she let him rest, checking every half hour or so. At noontime, when
she entered his bedroom, she felt an “alarming stillness.” She called
to him quietly, moving to his side, but there was no response. He lay perfectly
still. She could see: he had slipped away.
23, 1984: The last picture of the most photographed
writer of his generation, taken at Joanne Carson's
house in Los Angeles, with Joanne's Doberman,
For Chameleons” he admitted that the spiritual beliefs
which he had learned from Cousin Sook as a child, had fallen
away as he grew older. But in the latter years, he had begun
to think about such things again. Although he wasn’t the
worst person he’d ever known, he conceded to “some
pretty serious sins – deliberate cruelty among them.” Furthermore,
it never bothered him until “the rain started to fall.
A hard black rain,” that didn’t stop.
He was reminded
of Flaubert’s St. Julian, the boy who had loved all living
things until his father taught him to kill when his bloodlust became so great
people feared his presence. Then one day, Julian accidentally kills his parents.
He spends the rest of his life an outcast penitent, wandering the world in ragged
despair, until one night waiting for a boat to take him across a river, he encounters
a leper. Unbeknownst to Julian, the hideous looking creature is God. Julian shares
his blanket when the leper tells him he’s cold. He embraces the leper when
he’s asked to. Then, when the leper requests that Julia kiss His rotting
diseased lips, Julian does.
Suddenly both are transformed into a radiant light and ascend to heaven.
A Biography by Gerald
Clarke. Click book cover to order.
In the hard rain falling, Truman Capote found himself praying once
that he “would have the luck to hold a leper in my arms.”
He died, according to the coroner’s report of “liver disease complicated
by phlebitis and multiple drug intoxication,.” There was no alcohol found
in his system and the drug levels, “although contributory, were not lethal
and indicated regular usage with his past medical history.”
His writing, he always said, came before anything else. He regarded
as “gift from God;” one that came with a whip with which to flagellate
oneself. Everything he ever wrote was, for him, about real life. Much of it on
the edge of sadness, like so much of his own real life. The whip had remained
with him, as had the gift.