Capote in Kansas is set in 1984, just a few weeks before Capote’s death from liver disease in the home of his longtime friend Joanne Carson, Johnny’s second wife. Through flashbacks to 1959 Kansas, when the pair did the research for Capote’s In Cold Blood, and to their childhood days in rural Alabama, Powers explains the powerful bond between the two, imagines what may have caused them to stop speaking to each other for so many years, and unfolds a devastatingly sad version of what their lives became after each was visited by relatively sudden fame and fortune.
Powers imagines a time shortly before Capote’s death during which Capote suddenly telephones Lee in the middle of the night, after years of silence between the two, with a panicked plea for her help to rid his bedroom of Nancy Clutter’s ghost.
Neither Capote nor Lee ever published a book after the successes of their two masterpieces but they handled that fact very differently. Capote became a regular on the celebrity circuit of television talk shows, for years working hard to maintain the illusion that he was on the verge of publishing his next big book. Lee quietly moved back to
Capote’s inability to complete another book was compounded, if not caused outright, by his years of alcohol and drug addiction. Many, as Powers does here, have speculated that his behavior may also be the reason that Lee has never published another book. Capote is likely to have been responsible for the rumor that he, not Harper Lee, was the author of To Kill a Mockingbird. At the least, it was a rumor he encouraged by his refusal to ever deny it. Some think that Lee was so embarrassed and tormented by the rumor that she simply decided that she had had enough of fame and retreated to small town
Capote in Kansas is a nice blend of fact and fiction and, although they will be somewhat saddened by its contents, fans of Capote and Lee will enjoy it.
Rated at: 4.0
A Fascinating Concept: But Will It Work?
In Cold Blood (1965)
The Fruitcake Lady (Truman Capote's Aunt)
Truman Capote - Hollywood Versions
Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee
Righting a Wrong About Harper Lee