Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Big Life For A Little Man

Well, it took far longer than I thought, but I finally ended the biography of Truman Capote. I guess I knew more about his life than I thought...little drunk (literally).

This isn't to say that I didn't end it with a certain sadness for the man. After writing In Cold Blood, he went off the rails in a big way. Bad romances, drink, drugs...the usual things that bring people down. One of the points of the two Capote films, Capote & Infamous, suggested that the stress of creating In Cold Blood (specifically his relationship with one of the murderers, Perry Smith) all but wrecked him emotionally. There is a certain truth to that: after In Cold Blood, the only things he produced were the short story collection Music for Chameleons and a few hints at his unfinished work Answered Prayers. Oddly, one of those parts, La Cote Basque, destroyed his associations with the very people he longed to be part of. It could have been a desire to destroy himself, I have no idea.

I got through his life story for two reasons: one, the two aforementioned films intrigued me about the real man, and two, his seminal work, In Cold Blood, was listed as one of the books of the Twentieth Century...and has also been challenged/banned. I plan to read In Cold Blood, but first on my list is How The Irish Saved Civilization. I've started on it and find it quite interesting, well-thought out. Somehow, seeing how Western Civilization is in danger of collapsing--what with college students not being able to write in cursive, having no appreciation or even fear/hatred for actual books or works of art (and a lot of modern art being, well, curious at best), and the glorification of non-entities (Jersey Shore, Rob Dyrdek) and second-rate performers (John Mayer), and a shocking lack of knowledge (believing either Glenn Beck or Keith Olbermann are actual news sources rather than propagandists for their respective causes), we need to look back on when we were in danger of having vast stores of knowledge erased by the barbarian horde.

I hope to finish How the Irish Saved Civilization in two weeks, but I also will indulge in more popular literature. I have never read a novel by Janet Evanovich, James Patterson, John Grisham, Nora Roberts, Nicholas Sparks, or Vince Flynn. I understand they are wildly popular, but they've never appealed to me. However, I think I should give them all a fair hearing. Oddly, that's what I'm going to do: hear them. I confess to enjoying books on audio more, and I am able to finish a story faster that way (I'm a slow reader--what, six to eight weeks for a biography, although And Then There Were None I was able to finish in one sitting, still the only book I was able to do that with). With that in mind, I have requested a title from Mr. Flynn and Brad Thor, who writes similar books--action/espionage thrillers. I can't say whether they're goo or bad. I'm not snobbish enough to dismiss their work as trash, but I can't elevate it to great literature either. It may be that Flynn, Thor, or any of the above want to be thought of that way. Of course, I don't think they want to write garbage either. Good books will always be good books.

Well, there it is. Next book: How The Irish Saved Civilization.

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