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One of the strongest fiction writers of his generation, Truman Capote became a literary star while still in his teens. His most phenomenal successes include Breakfast at Tiffany's; In Cold Blood; and Other Voices, Other Rooms. Even while his literary achievements were setting the standards that other fiction and nonfiction writers would follow for generations, Capote descended into a spiral of self-destruction and despair. This biography by Gerald Clarke was first published in 1988--just four years after Capote's death. It was the basis for Capote, the 2005 film starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, who won an Academy Award for his performance. Clarke paints a vivid behind-the-scenes picture of Capote's life--based on hundreds of hours of in-depth interviews with Capote himself and the people close to him. From the glittering heights of notoriety and parties with the rich and famous to his later struggles with addiction, Capote emerges as a richly multidimensional person--both brilliant and flawed. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Gerald Clarke graduated from Yale as an English and American Literature major. After a short stint at Harvard Law, he turned to journalism and wrote for Time Magazine, Rolling Stone, The New Republic, and Esquire, among others. As the Show Business writer for Time, he interviewed some of his generation's most famous people--including Mae West, Elizabeth Taylor, Raquel Welch, Alfred Hitchcock, George Lucas, and George Burns. Intrigued by the working habits and creative genius of other writers, he began a series of in-depth profiles of famous authors--such as Allen Ginsburg, Gore Vidal, P.G. Wodehouse, Vladimir Nabokov, and Truman Capote. His profile of Capote became a full-fledged biography--with Clarke serving as a witness to the final ten years of the author's life.
Judy Garland. The girl with the pigtails, the symbol of innocence in The Wizard of Oz. Judy Garland. The brightest star of the Hollywood musical and an entertainer of almost magical power. Judy Garland. The woman of a half-dozen comebacks, a hundred heartbreaks, and countless thousands of headlines. Yet much of what has previously been written about her is either inaccurate or incomplete, and the Garland the world thought it knew was merely a sketch for the astonishing woman Gerald Clarke portrays in Get Happy. Here, more than thirty years after her death, is the real Judy. To tell her story, Clarke took ten years, traveled thousands of miles across two continents, conducted hundreds of interviews, and dug through mountains of documents, many of which were unavailable to other biographers. In a Tennessee courthouse, he came across a thick packet of papers, unopened for ninety years, that laid out the previously hidden background of Judy's beloved father, Frank Gumm. In California, he found the unpublished memoir of Judy's makeup woman and closest confidante, a memoir centered almost entirely on Judy herself. Get Happy is, however, more than the story of one woman, remarkable as she was. It is a saga of a time and a place that now seem as far away, and as clouded in myth and mystery, as Camelot-the golden age of Hollywood. Combining a novelist's skill and a movie director's eye, Clarke re-creates that era with cinematic urgency, bringing to vivid life the unforgettable characters who played leading roles in the unending drama of Judy Garland: Louis B. Mayer, the patriarch of the world's greatest fantasy factory, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Arthur Freed, the slovenly producer who revolutionized the movie musical and gave Judy her best and most enduring parts. Sexy Lana Turner, Judy's friend and idol, who had a habit of trying to snatch away any man Judy expressed interest in. And what men they were! Oscar Levant, the wit's wit, whose one-liners could all but kill. Artie Shaw, whose sweet and satiny clarinet had a whole nation dancing. Handsome Tyrone Power, who caused millions of hearts to pound every time he looked out from the screen with his understanding eyes. Orson Welles, Hollywood's boy genius and the husband of a movie goddess, Rita Hayworth. Brainy Joe Mankiewicz, who knew everything there was to know about women, but who confessed that he was baffled by Judy. Vincente Minnelli, who showed what wonders Judy could perform in front of a camera and who fathered her first child, Liza-but who also, with an act of shocking betrayal, caused her first suicide attempt. Charming, brawling Sid Luft, who gave her confidence, then took it away. And the smooth and seductive David Begelman, who stole her heart so he could steal her money. Toward the end of her life, Garland tried to tell her own story, talking into a tape recorder for hours at a time. With access to those recordings-and to her unfinished manuscript, which offers a revelation on almost every page-Clarke is able to tell Judy's story as she herself might have told it. "It's going to be one hell of a great, everlastingly great book, with humor, tears, fun, emotion and love," Judy promised of the autobiography she did not live to complete. But she might just as well have been describing Get Happy. For here at last--told with humor, tears, fun, emotion and love--is the true, unforgettable story of Judy Garland.
Truman Capote was hailed as one the most meticulous writers in American letters-a part of the Capote mystique is that his precise writing seemed to exist apart from his chaotic life. While the measure of Capote as a writer is best taken through his work, Capote the person is best understood in his personal correspondence with friends, colleagues, lovers, and rivals.In Too Brief a Treat, the acclaimed biographer Gerald Clarke brings together for the first time the private letters of Truman Capote. Encompassing more than four decades, these letters reveal the inner life of one of the twentieth century's most intriguing personalities. As Clarke notes in his Introduction, Capote was an inveterate letter writer who both loved and craved love without inhibition. He wrote letters as he spoke: emphatically, spontaneously, and without reservation. He also wrote them at a breakneck pace, unconcerned with posterity. Thus, in this volume we have perhaps the closest thing possible to an elusive treasure: a Capote autobiography.Through his letters to the likes of William Styron, Gloria Vanderbilt, his publishers and editors, his longtime companion and lover Jack Dunphy, and others, we see Capote in all his life's phases-the uncannily self-possessed na*f who jumped headlong into the dynamic post--World War Two New York literary scene and the more mature, established Capote of the 1950s. Then there is the Capote of the early 1960s, immersed in the research and writing of his masterpiece, In Cold Blood. Capote's correspondence with Kansas detective Alvin Dewey, and with Perry Smith, one of the killers profiled in that work, demonstrates Capote's intense devotion to his craft, while his letters to friends like Cecil Beaton show Capote giddy with his emergence as a flamboyant mass media celebrity after that book's publication. Finally, we see Capote later in his life, as things seemed to be unraveling: when he is disillusioned, isolated by his substance abuse and by personal rivalries. (Ever effusive with praise and affection, Capote could nevertheless carry a grudge like few others). Too Brief a Treat is that uncommon book that gives us a literary titan's unvarnished thoughts. It is both Gerald Clarke's labor of love and a surpassing work of literary history.
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