Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Series Editor’s Preface

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pp. ix-x

...The Understanding Contemporary American Literature series was founded by the estimable Matthew J. Bruccoli (1931–2008), who envisioned these volumes as guides or companions for students as well as good nonacademic readers, a legacy that will continue...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

...I want to begin by thanking Linda Wagner-Martin and the University of South Carolina Press for their help with this project. It is a pleasure to be part of this series. I am grateful for the invaluable feedback and support of John Lutz, Jessica O’Hara, and Kirsten...

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Chapter 1 Understanding Truman Capote

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pp. 1-15

...Lillie Mae Faulk desperately wanted an abortion. Within a few weeks of her marriage to Archulus (“Arch”) Persons in 1923, she realized she had made a terrible mistake. At first Arch seemed like her ticket out of small-town America. A natural salesman...

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Chapter 2 A Tree of Night and Other Stories

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pp. 16-42

...Truman Capote hoped his part-time job at the New Yorker would put him on the path to becoming a published author, and in rather unexpected ways it did. The magazine hired him in 1942—along with a variety of sketchy assistants who were “either...

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Chapter 3 Other Voices, Other Rooms

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pp. 43-60

...“the story of Joel Knox did not need to be told” (quoted in Clarke 155). These responses capture some of the pervasive concerns about homosexuality at the time. In the same year Alfred Kinsey released Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, which reported (among...

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Chapter 4 The Grass Harp

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pp. 61-78

...As children in rural Alabama, Truman Capote and Nelle Harper Lee often escaped to the tree house in her backyard, climbing up the chocolate-colored bark and disappearing for hours at a time. This place, Clarke notes, “became their fortress against the world...

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Chapter 5 The Muses Are Heard

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pp. 79-94

...When Capote received an invitation to accompany the Everyman Opera Company to the Soviet Union, he jumped at the opportunity. No American theatrical group had performed in Russia for decades, and Cold War tensions promised to generate significant...

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Chapter 6 Breakfast at Tiffany’s

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pp. 95-111

...George Peppard. I mean, Fred.” To which she replies, “George . . . Fred’s gay.” This humorous exchange certainly pokes fun at the ways popular culture often appropriates literature. It replaces complexity (in this case regarding sexuality) with the conventional, and it encourages passive consumption (watching a film) over intellectual engagement...

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Chapter 7 In Cold Blood

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pp. 112-148

...On November 15, 1959, Dick Hickock and Perry Smith drove approximately four hundred miles to the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, and brutally murdered four members of the Clutter family. Armed with a hunting knife and a twelve-gauge shotgun...

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Chapter 8 Three Stories, Answered Prayers, and Capote in the Twenty-First Century

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pp. 149-156

...situate Capote as a writer shaped by and deeply engaged with the social, cultural, and political climate of the 1940s and 1950s. When placed in this context, his work—with its depictions of nostalgia, racism, sexuality, the Cold War, poverty, juvenile delinquency, and violence—takes on a new significance. It condemns the practices...

Notes

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pp. 157-166

Bibliography

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pp. 167-174

Index

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pp. 175-186