Saturday, March 15, 2008

A Fascinating Concept: But Will It Work?

I suppose this has happened to all of us, especially as children, but even as adults. We find ourselves getting excited about something, either an object we want to acquire, a vacation, or just some event that we so strongly look forward to that we are bound to be disappointed with the reality. I hope I'm not setting myself up for one of those times with the new book that I finally got my hands on today.

It's a book called Capote in Kansas: A Ghost Story and the funny thing is that I had missed the second part of the title before today. As a few of my recent posts indicate, I've become intrigued by the lifelong relationship between Nell Harper Lee and Truman Capote, their two masterpieces, and what went on in Kansas when In Cold Blood was being researched. So when I first spotted a book called "Capote in Kansas" I assumed it was a non-fiction book that would add more details to the facts that I had already picked up from Harper's recent biography and Capote, the film I finally watched a few weeks ago.

When the library finally let me know that my copy was ready to be picked up this weekend I was excited. And now I find that it is a novel that explores the "last days" of both authors as researched and detailed by novelist Kim Powers. This could really be fun...or a terrible bust. I immediately read the first two chapters and I can't tell yet how I am going to react to the book. The first two chapters didn't tell me anything about the two that I didn't already know, but I have to admit that it was eerie to find Capote calling Harper in terror in the middle of the night begging her to help him get rid of Nancy Clutter's ghost, a ghost that was angry with him for making her into a celebrity.

I do wonder what Nell Harper Lee, a very private person, must think of this book, one of the strangest, but most fascinating, concepts for a novel I've run into in a while. I'm reading so many books at the moment, something like 11 or 12 (I've lost count) that it may be a while before I finish Capote in Kansas unless it works its way to the top of the stack and refuses to move back down until its finished. If it manages that trick, it will probably end up as one of my favorite books of 2008.


  1. I've been reading with fascination of the connection between Lee and Capote on your blog lately. Eager to hear more about this book as well!

  2. I don't think I'll be able to keep this one on the bottom of the stack for very long, Jeane...I'm surprised that I have heard so little about the book up to now since it came out late last year. I can't even remember exactly where I saw the title first...maybe in "Bookmarks" magazine?

  3. I've not heard of this one before, and like you, have been fascinated with the Capote/Harper relationship since first reading that Dill in To Kill a Mockingbird was based on Capote. Lo, these many years ago...

    Eager to hear your verdict.

  4. So far, so good, Jenclair. I'm about 80 pages in and it's interesting but I'm not picking up on much that I didn't already know. Somehow I must have already managed to pick up a lot more detail about their relationship than I thought I had...but the book is well written and 80 pages is only about one-third of its length.