Truman Capote
A Literary Life at the Movies

Tison Pugh

A compelling journey through Truman Capote’s cinematic legacy

Reviews

“Tison Pugh gives us a thoroughly researched, interpretive, and insightful examination of all the ways Capote’s writing talents, conspicuous celebrity, and uncloseted sexuality intersected in movies and television. Though Capote’s literary reputation primarily rests on his fiction and nonfiction, Pugh illuminates Capote’s versatility in adapting screenplays from the original works of other writers, in his cinematic style in his own original work, in the often subtle gay-themed subtexts of much of his most famous work, and in his unique performance of his gay-celebrity persona, a persona that ultimately influenced estimates of Capote’s literary achievements, inextricably linking his writing with his life. Pugh’s book is an invaluable contribution to the fullest possible picture of one of America’s greatest, most versatile, and most conspicuous writers.”
—Ralph F. Voss, author of Truman Capote and the Legacy of “In Cold Blood”

"With thick paragraphs on every page, each chapter is its own academic essay, with enough content to be stretched into a full collegiate course. This makes for dense reading but also opens many avenues of film and literature to explore as well. It's a hefty book yet rich with insight into Capote's literary and cinematic achievements."
Publishers Weekly


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Description

Truman Capote once remarked, “My primary thing is that I’m a prose writer. I don’t think film is the greatest living thing”; nonetheless, his legacy is in many ways defined by his complex relationship with cinema, Hollywood, and celebrity itself. In Truman Capote: A Literary Life at the Movies, Tison Pugh explores the author and his literature through a cinematic lens, skillfully weaving the most relevant elements of Capote’s biography— including his highly flamboyant public persona and his friendships and feuds with notable stars—with insightful critical analysis of the films, screenplays, and adaptations of his works that composed his fraught relationship with the Hollywood machine.

Capote’s masterful short stories and novels ensure his status as an iconic author of the twentieth century, and his screenplays, including Beat the Devil, Indiscretion of an American Wife, and The Innocents, allowed him to collaborate with such Hollywood heavyweights as Humphrey Bogart, John Huston, and David O. Selznick. Throughout his professional life he circulated freely in a celebrity milieu populated by such notables as Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor, and Marilyn Monroe. Cinematic adaptations of his literature, most notably Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood, play with or otherwise alter Capote’s queer literary themes, often bleaching his daring treatment of homosexuality in favor of heterosexual romance.

Truman Capote: A Literary Life at the Movies reveals Capote’s literary works to be not merely coincident to film but integral to their mutual creation, paying keen attention to the ways in which Capote’s identity as a gay southerner influenced his and others’ perceptions of his literature and its adaptations. Pugh’s research illuminates Capote’s personal and professional successes and disappointments in the film industry, helping to create a more nuanced portrait of the author and bringing fresh details to light.

Series/imprint:
The South on Screen

Page count: 328
25 b&w photos
Trim size: 6 x 9

 

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5/15/2014
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Tison Pugh is a professor of English at the University of Central Florida. He is the author of Queer Chivalry: Medievalism and the Myth of White Masculinity in Southern Literature, and Queering Medieval Genres and coeditor of Queer Movie Medievalisms, among other titles.