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Capote, Truman. MUSIC FOR CHAMELEONS: NEW WRITING. New York City, NY: Random House, 1980. Hardcover. First Edition/First Printing. 262 pages. Fine/Fine.

The last book published in the author's lifetime. One of the greatest American literary collections of the 20th century. The First Hardcover Edition. Precedes and should not be confused with all other subsequent editions. Published in a regular first print run that sold out shortly after publication. The First Edition is now scarce. Presents Truman Capote's "Music For Chameleons". Capote will always be remembered (and rightly so) for his masterpiece, "In Cold Blood" (1965). Still, his short stories and his novellas, that is to say, his long short stories ("Other Voices, Other Rooms", "The Grass Harp", and "Breakfast At Tiffany's") are among the greatest literary achievement by an American writer whose life was tragically cut short by what amounted to a slow, self-inflicted death from depression, alcoholism, and drug addiction. The enduring interest in Capote The Celebrity tends to distract us from the greatness of Capote The Writer. Capote wrote his best work as a very young man and died in 1984 at the age of 60, writing virtually nothing in the last decade of his life, unable to finish his much-anticipated novel, "Answered Prayers", whose manuscript has never been found (because it was never written). Capote's idol was Flaubert and his stated goal was punitively Flaubertian: Perfection. There is no living American writer who writes as beautifully as Capote did at the height of his powers. Many fashionable young American writers today denigrate his achievement because they just can't do it, and we tend to hate what we cannot do. Capote was justifiably proud of the most sustained piece in the collection, "Handcarved Coffins". Written as a cross between a novella and a screenplay, it is a poignant reminder of how well Capote could write when he was at the peak of his powers. Although it was immediately acquired by Hollywood, "Handcarved Coffins" could finally not be made into a film because of its unresolved (and therefore, by Hollywood's standards, "unhappy") ending. Its twist is daring in its brilliance: Flouting the "suspense"/thriller genre upon which it is based, the novella informs the reader who the killer is, almost from the get-go, and who thereafter dominates the narrative. As is now well-known and widely-discussed, the devastating second twist is that he is never caught. As fully imagined and realized by Capote, the villain-antagonist, Quinn, precedes and anticipates The Judge of Cormac MCarthy's "Blood Meridian" (1985). An absolute "must-have" title for Truman Capote collectors. This copy is very prominently, neatly, and beautifully signed in black ink-pen on the title page by Truman Capote. It is signed directly on the page itself, not on a tipped-in page. This title is a late-modern classic. This is one of very few signed copies of the First Hardcover Edition/First Printing still available online and despite its imperfection (a slight crease on DJ) is still in especially fine condition: Clean, crisp, and bright, a beauty. Please note: Random House indicated its First Editions with the statement and a number line that began with the Number 2. It did not adopt the Number 1 until recently (around 2004/2005), and even then, on a very inconsistent basis. There are many more copies available online of the Limited Edition, pre-signed on a tipped-in page, than there are copies signed on the title page. Copies command as much as $3200 even though most of them have major flaws. This is surely an accessible and lovely alternative. A rare signed copy thus. Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood" is widely regarded as one of the greatest books of the 20th century. One of the greatest writers of the 20th century. A fine collectible copy. (SEE ALSO OTHER TRUMAN CAPOTE TITLES IN OUR CATALOG). ISBN 0394508262. $400.00

This item is available for purchase. This web page was most recently updated on September 24, 2017.