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Tiny Terror: Why Truman Capote (Almost) Wrote "Answered Prayers"

William Todd Schultz.
Publisher Oxford  
Format hardcover
Product Dimensions 7.25 x 5.25 x 0.75 inches
ISBN 9780199752041
Pages/Publication Date 175/2011
Daedalus Item Code 30712
This item is not available.
Though the gifted and flamboyant Truman Capote was renowned for such books as Breakfast at Tiffany's and In Cold Blood, relatively little attention has been given his last, unfinished book Answered Prayers. It mercilessly skewered café society and the socialites he called his "swans," and when excerpts appeared in 1976 Capote was blacklisted, leaving him disgraced, depressed, and all but friendless. William Todd Schultz, a psychologist whose biographies have explored the inner workings of Diane Arbus, Sylvia Plath, Oscar Wilde, Roald Dahl, and Jack Kerouac, here considers the contradictory and self-destructive impulses that led Capote to write a book that would ruin him. Schultz illuminates Capote's early years in the South, a time that Capote himself described as a snake's nest of nos: no parents to speak of, no friends but books, no hope, no future. Out of this bleak childhood emerged two prominent life-scripts: neurotic Capote, who was anxious, vulnerable, hypersensitive, expecting to be hurt; and Capote the destroyer—emotionally bulletproof, vicious, and bent on revenge. Schultz demonstrates how Capote would lash out when he felt hurt or taken for granted, engaging in caustic feuds with Gore Vidal, Tennessee Williams, and many other writers, and reveals how this tendency impelled Capote to write the exceedingly corrosive and thinly disguised roman à clef that trashed his high-society friends.

"A fascinating analysis of the complexities of Capote's relationships with different sides of himself, with the two murderers he wrote about in In Cold Blood, and with the elite social world he turned savagely against in Answered Prayers."—William M. Runyan

"When I interviewed Capote over the last three years of his life, he always amused, and sometimes confused. He told me stories with a straight face and earnestness which I accepted as truth—his truth—only to discover other versions of the same story later on. So, what to make of Tiny Terror? Schultz has gone a long way in this brief book to show us how complex, how complicated, how intriguing, and how mystifying Truman Capote was. His work lives on. His character continues to be defined."—Lawrence Grobel

"Schultz, a master psychobiographer, constructs in vivid prose a convincing, multifaceted interpretation of Capote's work and his 'consistently inconsistent' personality. The culmination of 25 years spent studying the infamous author, this work also suggests directions for future theorizing and research in personality psychology."—Nicole B. Barenbaum

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