Reading Material


Something, I observed while reading Music For Chameleons

In Then It All Came down by Truman Capote, “It’s odd about tattoos, I’ve talked to several hundred men convicted of homicide–multiple homicide, in most cases. The only common denominator I could find among them was tattoos. A good eighty percent of them were heavily tattooed. Richard Speck. York and Latham. Smith and Hickock”(p. 209).

I have noticed an increasing diversion to getting multiple tattoos seems closely related to having an addiction to a particular substance, activity, or hobby. Today, we also have to consider other practices used to alter one’s appearance and how they could weigh in on the circumstances the author addresses in the above paragraph.  Often, our current population also uses other methods to feed their addictions.

However, during era the author penned this particular paragraph, it wasn’t common to see multiple tattoos on a person’s body. Often, it triggered a negative reaction in that period to see multiple tattoos on a person’s skin. This conditioned reaction made people apprehensive and leery of this graphic display or type of appearance in their community.

On page 212, “People couldn’t believe anything except what the media said. The media had them programmed to believe it all happened because we were out to start a race war. That it was mean niggers going around hurting all these good white folk. Only–it was like you say. The media, they called us a ‘family.’ And it was the only true thing they said. We were a family.”

This echoes some of the media coverage of today. What does the future hold for our children? Constant turmoil in our country is stirred up through media coverage. Some things never change or improve, I would like to see some positive changes in this sector. 

“That was Perry Smith’s dream. And Charlie Manson’s, too. Maybe, you fellows have more in common than mere tattoos” (p. 215).

In Hidden Gardens by Truman Capote, “A lot of fey folk have strolled about the square. Pirates, Lafitte himself. Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. Huey Long. Or, moseying under the shade of a scarlet parasol, the Countess Willie Piazza, the proprietress of one of the ritzier maisons de plaisir in the red-light neighborhood: her house was famous for an exotic refreshment it offered–fresh cherries boiled in cream sweetened with absinthe and served stuffed inside the vagina of a reclining quadroon beauty. Or another lady, so unlike the Countess Willie: Annie Christmas, a female keelboat operator who was seven feet tall and was often observed toting a hundred-pound barrel of flour under either arm. And Mr. Neddie Flanders, a dapper gentleman in his eighties, maybe nineties, who, until recent years, appeared in the square each evening, and accompanying himself on a harmonica, tap-danced from midnight until dawn in the most delicate, limber-puppet way. The characters. I could list hundreds” (p.177).

The above paragraph is so filled with colorful descriptions, packed with unusual flair, and it creates the movement of the city life in the region Capote writes about bringing to life his characters with their unique personalities and their individual appearances. I’m floored by his writing talents on display inside his pages. It is a delight to read his short stories and his novels.

While reading The Grass Harp by Truman Capote, I had some deep thoughts about one particular paragraph, “I’ve read that past and future are a spiral, one coil containing the next and predicting its theme. Perhaps this is so; but my own life has seemed to me more a series of closed circles, rings that do not evolve with the freedom of a spiral; for me to get from one to the other has meant a leap, not a glide. What weakens me is the lull between, the wait before I know where to jump. After Dolly died I was a long while dangling” (p.94).

This passage makes me think about my life. I do see his meaning clearly in the above paragraph. Predicting one’s life thesis (theme) through this shape is intriguing with the many coils that make up a spiral, or thinking about a spiral becoming a life out of control is even more like my life. However, I see those closed circles, too inside my life that are caused by lacking the freedom to change their direction. I think I am leaping because I’m definitely not gliding through this life at all. These lulls do cause a weakening inside my soul since I desire to keep going and progressing, not stopping or slowing my progress by these pulses creating so many altered directions. Interruptions are so unnecessary. I want to know immediately where to jump and how I will land after my decision is made. It would be far better if the right answers were revealed to me before I made the incorrect execution, wrong turn, or went down a dead end path leading to complete failure. An unsuitable shape might be the result of these improper turns in life. How many of these are created by abuse, insults, injustices, immoral mistakes, unethical moves or erroneous surroundings?

Have you read any of Truman Capote’s writing? If so, what are some interesting passages you noted or studied?

SAM_0568 (2)


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