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Discussion Of Too Brief A Treat: The Letters Of Truman Capote

1472 words - 6 pages

Truman Capote, over the span of his lifetime, wrote numerous letters to the people in his life. Several of these letters were grouped together in a chronological anthology entitled Too Brief a Treat: The Letters of Truman Capote. Many letters were written during the time Capote was writing and researching his novel In Cold Blood. These particular letters convey Capote’s true feelings throughout the years he is involved with the murder case, and bring to light many of the struggles Capote went through to create a monumental piece of literature.
Capote’s letters to Alvin and Marie Dewey are clear descriptions of the many struggles associated with writing In Cold Blood. The Deweys became very close friends with Capote during the time he spent investigating in Kansas. When Capote went overseas to focus fully on writing In Cold Blood, he remained in close contact with the Deweys through his letter writing. These letters are covered with questions, stemming from the issue that Truman Capote was writing about an event that actually happened. Capote was not researching something in a far away time period; rather, Capote was dealing “…actual people who have real names” (The Story Behind a Nonfiction Novel). The people he was writing about would be able to read In Cold Blood, making it difficult for Capote to choose what details to use the novel. This fear, caused Capote to question about small details in the case, such as “…who found Nancy’s wristwatch in her show-Beverly or Eveanna? Which of these two was with Mrs. Helm when they realized Keyon’s radio was missing?” (Letter to Alvin and Marey Dewey 299-300 10 Oct. 1960). He obsessed over small details, and constantly looked for more information about what actually happened. This struggle to obtain more information is made evident in his letters. For instance, in another one of his letters to Alvin Dewey, Capote asks him for Nancy Clutter’s diary entries from “…Sat. Nov 14th in 1958, 1957, and 1965” (Letter to Alvin and Marie Dewey 281-282 17 May 1960). Seemingly small details like this were something that Capote was completely absorbed in. He wanted to know absolutely everything about the case, to create a perfect image of what happened.
The enormous amount of detail proved to be incredibly difficult to process. In another one of his letters, Capote mentions the fact that he has some “…4,000 typed-pages of notes” (Letter to Newton Arvin 288). He had to take that information and condense it down into a reasonably sized book, without excluding any of the necessary details. This process took an incredible amount of time, and spanned numerous years. The painstaking work of transferring all his research into a novel began to take over Capote’s entire life. When he started his research, Capote went in as an investigator for material; that viewpoint however, changed by the end of the novel. In a letter to Donald Windham, Capote reveals how truly involved he is with the novel. He writes, “…I feel a great...

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