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Music for Chameleons

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  5,573 ratings  ·  278 reviews
In these gems of reportage Truman Capote takes true stories and real people and renders them with the stylistic brio we expect from great fiction. Here we encounter an exquisitely preserved Creole aristocrat sipping absinthe in her Martinique salon; an enigmatic killer who sends his victims announcements of their forthcoming demise; and a proper Connecticut householder wit ...more
Paperback, 253 pages
Published March 29th 1994 by Vintage (first published 1980)
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mark monday
the biggest attraction to this collection is "Handcarved Coffins", an excellent account of serial killing in a small town. by turns mysterious, frustrating, tense, and bizarre, the accounting details Capote's relationship with the FBI agent assigned to the case, who has in turn romantically assigned himself to one of the potential victims. the modus operandi of the killer is original and very upsetting. the identity of the killer does not appear to be in question; what arises over the course of ...more
K.D. Absolutely
If you want to know more about Truman Capote, this is a better entertaining option for you. Composed of 14 short stories, Capote made himself a character in each. In the last one, in fact, he appeared as 2 characters conversing with each other. I had a nice time reading most of them because he seemed like a very versatile writer who was not afraid to experiment. I understand that these small masterpieces appeared in various magazines (New Yorker, Esquire, etc) during his time. So, probably that' ...more
Review to follow. On a book buying trip. Whooopeeeee!

And after some nice finds, it's back to business.

Music for Chameleons: New Writing by Truman Capote Including Handcarved Coffins

Although Random House plugs Music for Chameleons as new writings by Truman Capote, when it was published in 1980, all of the pieces had appeared in the two preceding years in Capote's usual venues, "Esquire," "Interview," "McCall's," "New York Magazine," and "The New Yorker." Within four years, Capote would be dead.

I'd been teaching In Cold Blood for two semesters and used the preface to this to introduce In Cold Blood, so I figured I might as well read the rest of the book. This is late-period Capote, mostly a mishmash of personal essays, anecdotes, and a novella-length true crime story.

First of all, the preface makes Capote seem like a self-involved jackass (which he by most accounts was - remember the postscript to the movie saying he never recovered from writing In Cold Blood?), but it also reveals his
Правя важното уточнение, че имам сборното издание, излязло през далечната 1984 година. Цензурирано и преминало през ситото на онова време, то е орязано и не в пълния вид, на който "Колибри" залага и който, надявам се, аз също ще си купя в близкото бъдеще.
Безспорно, "Ковчежета ръчноделки" е онази история, която заковава вниманието. Поставил себе си сред вихрушката от събития, превърнал се във важен герой, притежаващ ключова роля за повествованието, Капоти бавно, майсторски, в подробности проучва
Semi-ritratto di Truman Capote

(ovvero, cosa si deduce sulla sua persona dalla letture di Musica per camaleonti, ci saranno riprese letterali di fatti ben chiariti da lui stesso e mie deduzioni, tutto insieme a mo' di calderone)

Di sicuro quest'uomo ha un amor proprio decisamente maggiore del mio.

Lo stesso Capote recita a proposito del suo libro "E' un distillato su tutto quello che so sulla scrittura: scrittura di racconti, di sceneggiatura cinematografica, giornalismo..tutto." Non è esattamente
I liked the first two thirds of this book quite a lot. Capote was just an amazingly skilled writer, and his clean, thoughtful prose really worked for me. However, I found the last third (Conversational Portraits) pretty irritating. In the first part of the book, even though Capote is a character in all stories, and is a strong narrative presence, it didn't overwhelm the work. The third part, though, is Capote in full-blown egomaniac, name-dropping mode. I could've done without the nearly minute- ...more
Rick Rowland
I think I just discovered my new favorite book.
Jul 24, 2008 Maureen rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: non-fiction
I think it is safe to say that Capote was haunted by his early success with Other Voices, Other Rooms, the popularity of Breakfast at Tiffany's, and the burden of writing what Ernest Hemingway called, "the Classic American Novel," In Cold Blood. By the time that he wrote Music for Chameleons, Capote was drinking heavily and deeply depressed. This book is an pastiche of bit and pieces of Capote's writing. His interview with Bobby Beausoleil from the Manson family is one of the more interesting pi ...more
Ryal Woods
This is the book that sparked my appreciation of metaphor. "She sounds the way bananas taste" "a lemony slice of new moon" - floridly simple, but it impressed the hell out of me as a kid. Capote is telling stories even as he relates his true encounters with famous and infamous people, and memories of his Southern childhood. This collection contains Handcarved Coffins, written in similar style to In Cold Blood. You can never tell when Capote is telling truths or lies - I suspect he didn't know th ...more
Halley Sutton
Hmm. Hmm. Lots of thoughts here.

1. I'd read a grocery list if Truman Capote wrote it, so I am not unbiased in my review.
2. That said. Jesus, what a preface! I sure love to read him, but I can't imagine he was any picnic to know, particularly in later years. (Although who wouldn't have loved to split a bottle of champagne with him and Marilyn Monroe, seriously.) Particularly of interest was the line about discovering what is true and what is REALLY true. Where in Capote's psyche did "Handcarved
"To wake up one morning and feel that i was a last a grown-up person, emptied of resentment, vengeful thoughts and other wasteful childish emotions. To find myself, in other words, an adult". Like Capote, i long to feel like that. But, what if i never wanna lose my childish side? I can say, based on this book, Capote wanted it so and succeed to die with a child inside.
Really good book of short true stories by Capote. If you have never read anything of his, this would be a good place to try on his style.
Roozbeh Estifaee
I had heared of Truman Capote as a creator of what is called "non-fiction novel". Though not sure about what it meant, I was absorbed by the idea this expression suggested. So I read Music for Chameleons and boy! That was something!
The book is conducted in three parts: Music for Chameleons, Handcarved Coffins, and Conversational Portraits. The first is a set of six "non-fiction" short stories, which are, to say, perfect stories from which the "tale" is taken. The second part is a short novel, wr
Misha Crews
I love Truman Capote. The man was a prose-bound poet. His talent has always seemed to be an effortless, inborn genius: the seemingly-unlabored perfection of his words, the offhand brilliance of his dialogue, the razor-sharp vividness of his descriptions. Although all the stories in this book are gems, the shining jewel in the crown is the novella HANDCARVED COFFINS. It's a fascinating account of a small-town serial killer who sends his victims minature coffins with their pictures inside. I found ...more
Agustín Fest
Este es un buen libro para iniciarse con la lectura de Truman Capote y familiarizarse con él.

Cuentos, relatos de gente que conocía, una supuesta crónica real de unos asesinatos (qué, según la omnipotente Wikipedia, parece ser que son otro invento... pero no se condena. Cuando se toma un libro: ¿Qué importa si es real o no? Al final lo que importa es lo que sucedió con el lector, como salió/transmutó/sobrevivió después de leer la obra).

Es un buen libro para conocer a Truman Capote, o más bien,
Luis Sandoval
La semblanza a M. Monroe es el éxito, llegas a sentir empatía por su vida, su soledad, y hasta la fragilidad. Ataúdes tallados a mano, el horror en breve detalles. Música para camaleones es un cuento más acerca del estilo de vida excéntrico que vivió Capote y los personajes que conoció, de las conversaciones y retratos el mejor es la señora Mary y sus "cigarros de felicidad", le siguen jardines ocultos, Y luego ocurrió todo- juicios sobre lo bueno y lo malo- todo está bien. El libro finaliza con ...more
have only read two novels from capoto, but this one has to be my favorite -- sometimes don't really get the hype of capote -- his stories, like his persona, are highly meticulous, yet flamboyant; lucid, yet dubious. doe-eyed, i believed the implication of the title of the main novella, but after having delighted in the story, googled, and found it was most probably untrue. boo, but still a good tale. of the other clips, both fiction and nonfiction, my picks would be: hello, stranger; music for c ...more
“Портрет в разговорном стиле”

«[...]глаза у него как две разбитые вдребезги призмы. Я первый раз видел, что боль и страдания въелись так прочно[...]»

В 1980 году Трумен Капоте выпустил последнюю книгу «Музыка для Хамелеонов», цикл новелл включающий ”Здравствуйте, незнакомец”. В новелле зарисовка встречи автора с казалось бы давно, ещё со школы знакомым, Джорджем, который за последнее время из обеспеченного отца семейства превратился в пьяницу. Столь хорошо ли знаком Джордж? Является ли он новым Гу
Shivering William
Don't you just want to punch Capote sometimes? For being so smug and so full of himself and so damned . . . good. There's not a page in this work that doesn't feel naked or worried or throbbing. Sometimes all three. Yes, yes, even the made up bits. Handcarved Coffins may take some background research (including the reading of In Cold Blood and the watching of Capote) to truly appreciate, but I'll be damned if these short essays won't change you.
Cómo me gusta Capote. Siendo este libro una compilación (seis relatos, un relato largo y seis retratos) es natural que el nivel sea heterogéneo, pero en cualquier caso nunca por debajo del "bueno".

Dicho esto, este libro contiene algunos textos absolutamente deliciosos. "Mr Jones", "Hola, desconocido", "Una adorable criatura", "Intrepidez", así de memoria, son una exhibición de lo que se puede escribir si al talento puro le sumas una vida lo suficientemente interesante. Sensacionales.

Por otro lad
Andrés Borja
Capote en su etapa de mayor madurez artística. Una prosa muy bien cuidada nos conduce con suavidad por todos estos relatos y textos autobiográficos que a veces resultan bastante íntimos. Este es otro Capote, muy distinto al que conocí en 'A sangre fría'. Todos los textos incluidos son de alta calidad y se disfrutan, pero el central, 'Ataúdes tallados a mano", es particularmente entretenido. Lo recomiendo.
While I enjoyed every chapter of this book, and I think most people read it for the Marilyn Monroe one (that's what initially enticed me - Capote + Monroe, yes please!), my absolute favorite passage was with Mary Sanchez, the "cleaning lady." The idea of the two of them eating all that cake and ice cream, high as hell, getting caught by the uptight upper east siders was positively delightful. Everything about that story was fine-tuned, something so simple yet so amazingly fascinating.

Capote has
I continue to be fascinated by Truman Capote, and this engaging collection is no exception. From the introduction to the last chapter, everything seemed perfectly timed, perfectly paced, and yet spontaneous and natural, as if we were sitting together having a conversation. I'd say more, but this tired reader is ready for a nap! Thank you, TC, and may this marvelous book for found by another weary traveler; it somehow seems fitting to leave it behind in Frankfurt, as the author was quite a travel ...more
John Paez
I see much skepticism in the other reviews of this book about Capote's trustworthiness in representing a story as truth or fiction, but I have to say that I was able to put my own judgment about those matters aside, and enjoy the highly entertaining way in which he writes. Was the conversation with Marilyn Monroe real, partly real, or totally an invention of what others have said was a drug-addled mind - who cares? We will never truly know, and that is the beauty of it. Both parties have departe ...more
Wei Lien Chin
Even though Truman Capote is known for creating Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's, his best character will always be Truman Capote.

Music for Chameleons is a short story collection from Truman Capote, and Capote is a character in almost every single one of them. But the line between fact and fiction is blurred here, as we are never quite sure if the events described actually happened or if Capote made it up as he went along. It doesn't matter, though, because Capote is such a masterful s
I have to say that, it was really easy to read and to understand even though English is not my first language!
"Music for chameleon" caught my attention mainly for its variety of themes (short stories, a clarification about a notorious American crime and a series of "conversational portraits") indeed this is one of the many many reasons that made me fall in love with this book.
Of course I didn't like every single part equally: I didn't like all the short stories at the beginning.
It's not rare
This was my first experience with Capote, and it was a strange and intriguing one. The plot of In Cold Blood never really intrigued me, so I never gave Capote a second thought, but I picked this book up in a thrift store and thought I'd try it out.

I basically loved 2/3 of it. I struggled and suffered through the "Music for Chameleons" section. I thought the short stories were hit or miss. The best by far was "Dazzle" and the worst was "Mojave." Yet even the stories I didn't like stuck with me l
The preface to Music for Chameleons talks about how the author thinks non-fiction is the only way to go and how he decided that the absolute ultimate pinnacle of writing would be literary non-fiction with himself as the star of the show. So he's centre-stage in most of the stories and he makes a compelling character. Reading some of the other reviews on here there's a lot of talk about how much of an ass Capote seems. I couldn't help but compare this book with a couple of the non-fiction books I ...more
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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
More about Truman Capote...
In Cold Blood Breakfast at Tiffany's Other Voices, Other Rooms A Christmas Memory The Grass Harp, Including A Tree of Night and Other Stories

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“But I'm not a saint yet. I'm an alcoholic. I'm a drug addict. I'm homosexual. I'm a genius.” 231 likes
“We all, sometimes, leave each other there under the skies, and we never understand why.” 30 likes
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