I bought this book because a few weeks ago I saw the movie Capote. A very strong movie with a superb performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman (for which he deservedly received an Oscar).
Frankly, I didn’t know Truman Capote. To my amazement I learned that he had written Breakfast at Tiffany’s. And a friend of his — that helped him with the investigation into the Kansas murder — was Harper Lee, the writer of To Kill a Mockingbird. All of which made me very interested indeed.
I realise that those who know and love Capote’s work since decades will snigger at my backwardness. I know, I am used to hop behind things. For instance, I ‘discovered’ Shakespeare some 350 years after his death.
Anyway, I bought the book and I read (devoured) it. In German they have this fine word ‘ein Beobachter’ — an observer, but with the connotation of having a keen eye. Capote writes with the terse style of Hemingway and a keen eye for human behaviour. And he ‘reports’ what he sees and hears without judging.
I never love descriptions of landscape in a novel, they are so boring most of the times.
But read these first lines:
The village of Holcomb stands on the high wheat plains of western Kansas, a lonesome area that other Kansans call ‘out there’. Some seventy miles east of the Colorado border, the countryside, with its hard blue skies and desert-clear air, has an atmosphere that is rather more Far West than Middle West. The local accent is barbed with a prairy twang, a ranch-hand nasalness, and the men, many of them, wear narrow frontier trousers, Stetsons, and high-heeled boots with pointed toes. The land is flat, and the views are awesomely extensive; horses, herds of cattle, a white cluster of grain elevators rising as gracefully as Greek temples are visible long before a traveller reaches them.