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4.14  ·  Rating details ·  4,394 ratings  ·  198 reviews
Based on hundreds of hours of interviews with the man who authored In Cold Blood and Breakfast at Tiffany's, as well as with nearly everyone who knew him, this absorbing, definitive biography follows Truman Capote from his eccentric childhood in Alabama to the heights of New York society. Featuring many photographs, this book also candidly recounts a gifted and celebrated ...more
Paperback, 636 pages
Published August 23rd 2005 by Da Capo Press (first published 1988)
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Average rating 4.14  · 
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Paul Bryant
May 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Usually biographies begin with the more dutiful, laboured and frankly tiresome parts – the family background, the growing up, the education, the roots and the shoots, great author as 10 year old, etc. I always want to get past all that to the start of the action. Capote is a complete exception. The family circumstances, the growing up, the odd microscopically small place that TC grew up in, (which also produced another great novelist, how strange can you get, Harper Lee), the Southern gothic tra ...more
Feb 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Truman Capote died at age 59 in 1984; this 1988 biography by TIME writer Gerald Clarke, despite a welter of Capote books concurrent with the two similar biopic movies a dozen years ago, and continuing interest in the "Tiny Terror," this still is the best general-interest bio (IMO). Clarke set himself the unenviable task of covering all of Capote's life, but he performs marvelously. Rarely have I read a general-interest literary biography that discusses any author, his demons, his sexuality, and ...more
Capote: Gerald Clarke's Literary Biography

It took me a hellishly long time to read this book. Of course, I was reading it in conjunction with a read of Capote's works at the same time. So, I would read a novel, or a few short stories, and I would take back up with Clarke's biography.

But that's rather an excuse. Because Capote's life is often not a pleasant subject--not from childhood up to his last days, lost in a fog of Vodka and drugs.

And I've taken a hellishly long time to absorb what I've re
Jeanette (Again)
Truman Capote was an absurd little troll. He was self-absorbed, self-pitying, envious, and prone to alcohol abuse.He was a nosy little gossip, skilled at prying secrets out of friends and acquaintances. He would then immediately dash out and dish the dirt about things he had been told in confidence. As we used to say, "Telephone, telegraph, tell a Truman." He hurt a lot of people with his wagging tongue, and then drowned his sorrows in alcohol when people started excluding him from the social ci ...more
Jul 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
interesting book i loved it
Bob Mayer
Apr 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very well written biography of an enigmatic figure. His orbit touched many others in the art in his time. His life was sad but also intriguing.
His relationships with men, and as interestingly the women who found something they couldn't quite define in him, are well worth the read.
To be an artist is to be outside the bell curve and, as I often say when I present at writers conferences, that doesn't mean you're on the "good" side of that curve. Addiction is a danger for the creative. As is the
Mikey B.
A very well written and extensive biography of the celebrated American author. Truman Capote was a very gregarious person and was always the life of any gathering or party (except towards the end of his life). When he traveled (whether to New York or Europe) it was not to take in museums or sites, but to meet the inhabitants – particularly if they were famous, wealthy and/or notorious.

As Mr. Clarke points out Truman Capote had a neglected upbringing – he was abandoned by both his parents and to
Aug 07, 2007 rated it really liked it
In my opinion the author assesses various aspects of his life appropriately, but leaves some areas grossly underrepresented or wrongly assessed. For a concrete example of this, Capote's adolescent experiences of being the victim of coerced sex by boys, is playfully written off as relatively innocent forays (spellcheck) into sexuality. Since when is coerced sex relatively innocent? I guess he's thinking boys will be boys. His experiences with a pedophile teacher, I felt, were also grossly underpl ...more
Jan 10, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010january
Not surprisingly, Truman Capote knew hundreds of famous people.

And Gerald Clarke introduces every single one of them with a mini-bio of his or her own.

Unfortunately, Clarke doesn't use Capote's groundbreaking "nonfiction novel" technique in this biography. It often reads like a textbook, the chronology gets all out of whack and it never feels like a narrative.

Granted, he had an astounding amount of material to work with, including years of interviews with Capote and those closest to him. I have
Nov 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
if you are going to read one book on capote, this is it--please excuse the hackneyed phrase, but it will make you laugh and cry. I honestly feel like i understand truman and i wish i wouldve known him. quote by Truman Capote from Conversations with Capote by Lawrence Gorbel:
"This man Gerald Clarke who's writing this book about me--do you know him? He's one of the lead writers at Time magazine. He's really a very good writer. His book, it better be fantastic, because he's worked on it for eight
Abdul Basith
Aug 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Easily one of the best biographies that I have to ever read. I have to say Geralde Clarke did wonderful job on this book. This is a lengthy book but not omce did I ever lost interest or felt even a tiny amount of boredom.
Style of writing is marvellous . Complex psychology of Truman has been laid out easily in this book.
His Ascend as well as descend of his career is well depicted in this book.
If you enjoy reading biographies please pick this one
Jan 02, 2009 rated it liked it
This massive and comprehensive biography of Truman Capote was captivating. As a firm believer tat most biographies are enjoyable if one is a fan of the subject’s work, this book did no disappoint. Clarks’s intimate and detailed portrayal of Capote was certainly unbiased. Clarke held the mirror clearly for all to see Truman Capote’s genius, flaws, foibles, and his even darker side with narcissism, control, alcohol, and abuse. That Truman Capote came from a textbook example of a dysfunctional fami ...more
Hannah Kirchner
Nov 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book broke my heart. The man had so much brilliance and too many "red devils."

His rise and fall seems so much like that of his mother Nina (on which the character Holly Golightly was partially based and with whom he had a love/hate relationship). Once he became well known in the 40s (more for who he was and what was anticipated he would do), he spent his recreational time social climbing until he had reached the top of the strata.

Like his mother, he had his face pressed against the window
Feb 15, 2012 rated it liked it
It is very difficult to criticize any biography of Truman Capote. The man was a first class character and an excellent writer who managed to shape our literary culture in ways we are still talking about. Any biography written about him has to be interesting. It was a good read.

There were a few problems I had with the book, but I think I can attribute that to my own pickiness rather than the author's lack of knowledge or research. My complaints are mostly technical. I consider it a poor editor wh
Feb 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unfinished
Very well written and supremely entertaining...just much too long. I gave up three quarters of the way through Truman Capote's life story. Gerald Clarke is a wonderful writer and held my interest with his smooth, story telling style. I just got bored and still had six hours of reading left on the Kindle version of this I borrowed from the library. Also, knowing how Capote's life unravels slowly into a haze of booze and drugs ending in his death, I may have just wanted to end on a lighter point i ...more
Kristine Stevens
May 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The plushness of the details in this book rival one of Truman's velvet suits. I feel like I was a fly on the wall of his incredibly dramatic life. I rocket soared with him to the top of literary fame and glory and felt such sadness and frustration that his later years sank into such addiction and dysfunction. Very well written. The only downside: All those details created a very heavy book, but that I can happily deal with.
Sep 03, 2015 rated it it was ok
I had often wondered how an author of such modest literary output had achieved such acclaim. So I read Clarke's book.

I'm still not sure. He definitely was an effective self-promoter (maybe got that from his father) but we have many such examples today.

Extensive history of the man but not particularly interesting.
Dec 06, 2007 rated it did not like it
skip it. Read his novels instead.
Apr 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography-memoir
Currently, this is the best biography written about Capote. Could not put it down.
Jan 17, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015-books
An amazing amount of information. I think a lot of it could have been skimmed over.
N S Araujo
Lengthy read

Unnecessarily long, goes over material in too much u interesting detail. Start of book good it just needed serious cut to b h.
Jul 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I wish Gerald Clarke wrote a million biographies. I would read every one of them and be so smart. haha. Really, I would read about anyone he chose to write about, whether or not I had initial interest in that figure. His work is that engaging.
Sep 10, 2017 added it
Shelves: new-in-2017
After reading this biography, I have the strong feeling that Capote was a genius, but almost impossible to know as a friend. Lots of detail. Particularly intense when covering the In Cold Blood years. Impossibly sad during the decline and fall.
Corey Ledin-Bristol
Jul 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I wish I could have know him.
Aug 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(nb: I received an advance review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss)

After he published “In Cold Blood,” Truman Capote was the most famous writer in America, if not the world. Its novelesque telling of a true story received widespread critical acclaim, intrigued the countless readers who bought the book, and was turned into a successful Hollywood film.

This was also the apex of Truman Capote’s life. He’d been successful as a writer, and he’d made friends with his “swans,” a group
Jan 17, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, nonfiction
I have mixed feeling about this book, which is why I have given it a three star rating. If you are very interested in Truman Capote, then this is the biography to read. It is a very detailed and well-written book. If you have only a little interest, however, it may be overwhelmingly long. My husband got to page 374, and put it aside, asking me to tell him if he should finish it or not. Being only mildly interested in Capote, I found that I could only read the book for an hour to an hour in a hal ...more
Oct 04, 2014 rated it liked it
A recent email from Writers Digest asked readers to list the 10 books that 'stuck out' for them over the years; not good or bad, but the titles they most remembered. One of mine was "In Cold Blood" by Truman Capote. The Clutter family in Kansas was killed on my birthday and Capote's book came out in 1966, I was 16. This book was made into the film "Capote" for which Phillip Seymour Hoffman won an Oscar. I liked the movie better. This was a long book, nearly 600 pages. Lots more about Capote I'm ...more
Dec 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant. Here's a long, gossipy biography you can really sink your teeth into. It makes me want to reread all Capote's books. Do I dare read In Cold Blood again? It gave me nightmares years afterward.

I love Truman Capote's writing style. He was an absolute literary genius who never got enough credit for his talent. I think because he was so commercial, and such a celebrity. He had beyond-movie-star status. The guy was one of the most powerful men in America for nearly a decade. Yet it was nev
Jun 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Don't know why this guy fascinates me, but he does. When I've read a lot of books that I like by an author, I often begin to wonder what makes them tick! This book is probably the definitive biography of Capote but the addition of some slender volumes by Capote's family really fills in the gaps. The best is probably "The Southern Haunting of Truman Capote" by Marie Rudisill. She was his cousin and she takes the books he wrote on his childhood and then recalls the situation she feels influences t ...more
Burke Hodgson
Nov 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a surprisingly interesting and readable biography. I'm not a huge fan of Capote's skimpy literary output, but wondered how Scout's buddy Dill, a poor southern boy, became Truman Capote. After scrapping his feckless father, Truman Capote's mama married money --- lots of it --- and by the time he was 15 he was a rich little Yankee boy living in Manhattan with his folks. A born entertainer, at 19 he was tiny, beautiful, brilliant, outrageous, and the darling of fag hags Gloria Vandebilt and ...more
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Gerald Clarke is a journalist and biographer.

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

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