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Portraits and Observations: The Essays of Truman Capote
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Portraits and Observations: The Essays of Truman Capote

4.27  ·  Rating Details  ·  431 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
Perhaps no twentieth century writer was so observant and elegant a chronicler of his times as Truman Capote. Whether he was profiling the rich and famous or creating indelible word-pictures of events and places near and far, Capote’s eye for detail and dazzling style made his reportage and commentary undeniable triumphs of the form.

Portraits and Observations is the first
Hardcover, 528 pages
Published October 9th 2007 by Random House (first published 1995)
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Community Reviews

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Apr 19, 2015 Cheryl rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Essay lovers
Portraits and Observations, what a fitting title for this collection of poetic oddities and fluid cognizance. Capote's work is what you label belletrist, because be it fiction or nonfiction, the magnetism of his artful prose is the transfixing element. I was enthralled by “Master Misery,” and since then, I’ve bought Portraits and the nonfiction piece that helped transform journalism: In Cold Blood (which he discusses in this collection).

“I believe a story can be wrecked by a faulty rhythm,” Cap
Jan 21, 2008 Jenifer rated it liked it
a little bonkers, perhaps, but man could he write...
Sep 14, 2012 Martha rated it it was amazing
Shelves: truman-capote
the guy's brilliant.
Nov 21, 2014 Sara rated it really liked it
What a pleasure to find some new stories I haven't read! My favorite was about the bird Lola. If I was an English teacher, I would make every kid read it. This book also makes me wish there was a contemporary writer of pop culture that was even 1/2 as insightful and observant as he was. He clearly cared about his craft and I don't know of anyone today who could write a story like In Cold Blood or Porgy and Bess. Truly a joy to read!
Nov 07, 2014 Seán rated it it was amazing
Having visited Hotel Olaffson in Port-au-Prince in 2000, the Haiti chapter was exceptional travel writing. The Self Portrait chapter gave me some insight on how to write this type of work with students. These essays more than any other book illustrate Capote's strengths as an individual were as profound as his weaknesses were glaring.
Mar 19, 2016 Maureen rated it really liked it
Ooohh, such lovely writing that the topic is irrelevant. This is a collection of over 500 pages of Truman Capote essays from 1946 to 1984. It covers time spent in various American cities, plus vignettes from many other parts of the world. The longest is a diary written during the tour of an American troupe performing Porgy and Bess in Russia in 1956, at the height of the Cold War. The name dropping of his friends and acquaintances is legendary so we have intimate portraits of Marilyn Monroe, Eli ...more
Garnet Duke
Apr 26, 2016 Garnet Duke rated it it was amazing
Fascinating, absorbing, deeply satisfying essays.
A hefty book full of his incomparable witticism and wordplay, he draws you in so completely and with such life that often, at times, you feel he's sitting at your table, telling you essays stories himself.
Apr 02, 2012 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having never read any Capote before, I feel this book was the perfect introduction. I wanted some thematically-appropriate reading while on vacation in New Orleans, as well as something substantive yet easy to pick up and put down. Capote's vignettes of people and places were lyrical, acerbic, vulnerable, all too revealing of the foibles of their subjects (and their author, who would sometimes retell the same allegedly-real anecdote in different pieces with significant details changed). Reading ...more
May 04, 2015 Rj rated it it was ok
Sadly too many of the essays are dated. Really only for the true Capote devotee.
Mar 10, 2016 Shandygirl rated it it was amazing
So excited to find more Capote! Want to spend more time with this one.
Aug 31, 2014 Joseph rated it really liked it
Have reread some chapters numerous times. Not many books keep you coming back.
Mar 14, 2008 Julia rated it really liked it
Ignoring Capote's obsession with celebrity life for a moment, this book does a great job of artfully describing real events, real people, real places. Some of my favorites: Lola, about a bird that he adopts that thinks it's a dog, The Muses are Heard, about the cast of Porgy and Bess and their journeys into the Soviet Union, and Ghost in Sunlight, where he writes about the filming of In Cold Blood. Throughout the book he interviews murderers, ordinary people, and Marlon Brando. And yes, he is a ...more
Apr 05, 2016 Annabelle rated it it was amazing
It was a rainy day in September when I went into Fully Booked Cebu swearing not to buy any more books, as I was just there to drag Suyen away from yet another recipe book purchase. A glance at just one shelf, the one immediately in front of the entrance, was comforting--it was a bunch of boring essays. Suyen took an eternity of five minutes to come down, and in three I managed to end up with 7 books on the cashier counter--all from that single shelf! No regrets. This one is already the best of t ...more
Jul 15, 2014 Caitie rated it it was amazing
Amazing. He was a truly great writer.
Sep 27, 2013 Bethany rated it it was amazing
This book was incredible. I'm too tired to do a full review of it, maybe I'll do one later.

But I can say that it was incredible to read his impressions of such famous people, and incredible to read his growth and change of style as a writer over the years. I loved the novellas. I found that towards the end, the conversation-themed essay/script things got tiresome, but they were enjoyable nonetheless.
Louis Profeta Profeta
My writing was inspired by Mr. Capote, poetry of mine has taught me to gather two things, details, details and metaphor give depth to writing and Truman is great at both. Even the way he goes on tangents interests me, adding some humor. He carries many thoughts in a paragraph and it gets my interest plus his travels are extensive. A perfect teacher and a kind man of taste.Breakfast at Tiffanys, what can one say?
Mar 02, 2015 Ta rated it it was amazing
Want to know what was Marylin Monroe really like? Or Marlon Brando? Or Tennessee Williams? Read this.
May 23, 2012 David rated it it was amazing
I had not been familiar with his writing beyond what I had seen in movies and cultural folklore before I read this book - afterward, I realized he was a BRILLIANT social commentator! Stories are quite a snapshot of various decades throughout the 20th century.
Sep 21, 2014 Kathryn rated it liked it
As with any collection, this is a bit uneven, but the good pieces (especially "Handcarved Coffins" and "The Duke in His Domain") are really worth reading. He had such a wonderful eye for detail.
Aug 15, 2010 Natalie rated it it was amazing
Over the last few years, Truman Capote has become one of my favorite authors. He is a writer I turn to, again and again, to learn about writing and, more importantly, about humanity.
David Traeger
May 08, 2008 David Traeger rated it really liked it
This is a collection of essays that have appeared in other of Capote's books. I wish that he had written more instead of wasting all that talent on rich people. Worth re-reading.
Ashley Rangel
Oct 12, 2013 Ashley Rangel rated it it was ok
Shelves: gave-up-on
really good writer and I loved the section on Mae West but it was a lot of material to cover and I'm not sure what I'm looking for after reading Mindy Kaling
Debra Harrison
Jun 21, 2008 Debra Harrison rated it it was amazing
This book is full of examples of the wonderful ways Capote had of creating art with words. His genius really shines here.
Mar 11, 2016 Cathy rated it really liked it
Dear Truman loved to observe and then spill the beans and I'm so glad he did.
Aug 27, 2008 Paige rated it really liked it
Capote lover...a dark side of Capote that i have newver seen before...worth taking the time to get through it...
Feb 03, 2009 Lindsey rated it liked it
I love Capote but he makes me sad, so I'm going to wait a while before I try to finish this book.
Jan 13, 2008 Mattie rated it really liked it
Beautifully written of course. Self-absorbed, of course. Well worth reading.
Dec 23, 2011 Mel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: treasures
TC has a gift for putting simple observation into delightful prose.
Sep 13, 2012 Marichee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really good. Read it a few times since I've gotten it. Excellent.
Mar 12, 2009 Kandy rated it it was amazing
Incredible writing....the best book I have read in many years.
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Truman Capote was an American writer whose non-fiction, stories, novels and plays are recognised literary classics, including the novella Breakfast at Tiffany's (1958) and In Cold Blood (1965), which he labeled a "non-fiction novel." At least 20 films and TV dramas have been produced from Capote novels, stories and screenplays.

He was born as Truman Streckfus Persons to a salesman Archulus Persons
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“I prefer to underwrite. Simple, clear as a country creek.” 5 likes
“Коя е най-добрата дума за надежда във всички езици?
А най-опасната?
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