Music for Chameleons

Music for Chameleons

by Truman Capote


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In these gems of reportage Truman Capote takes true stories and real people and renders then with the stylistic brio we expect from great fiction. Here we encounter an exquisitely preserved Creole aristocrat sipping absinthe in her Martinique salon; an enigmatic killer who sends his victims announcements of their forthcoming demise; and a proper Connecticut householder with a ruinous obsession for a twelve-year-old girl he has never met. And we meet Capote himself, who, whether he is smoking with his cleaning lady or trading sexual gossip with Marilyn Monroe, remainds one of the most elegant, malicious, yet compassionate writers to train his eye on the social fauna of our time.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780141184616
Publisher: Penguin Books, Limited (UK)
Publication date: 01/28/2001

About the Author

Truman Capote was a native of New Orleans, where he was born on September 30, 1924. His first novel, Other Voices, Other Rooms, was an international literary success when first published in 1948, and accorded the author a prominent place among the writers of America's postwar generation. He sustained this position subsequently with short-story collections (A Tree of Night, among others), novels and novellas (The Grass Harp and Breakfast at Tiffany's), some of the best travel writing of our time (Local Color), profiles and reportage that appeared originally in The New Yorker (The Duke in His Domain and The Muses Are Heard), a true-crime masterpiece (In Cold Blood), several short memiors about his childhood in the South (A Christmas Memory, The Thanksgiving Visitor, and One Christmas), two plays (The Grass Harp and House of Flowers and two films (Beat the devil and The Innocents).

Mr. Capote twice won the O.Henry Memorial Short Story Prize and was a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters. He died in August 1984, shortly before his sixtieth birthday.

Date of Birth:

September 30, 1924

Date of Death:

August 25, 1984

Place of Birth:

New Orleans, Louisiana

Place of Death:

Los Angeles, California


Trinity School and St. John's Academy in New York City and Greenwich High School in Connecticut

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Music for Chameleons 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
cpprpnny770 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Great collections of Capote short stories. Beautifully written symbolism on many levels. Funny, intriguing and thought-provoking
twallace on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Music For Chamelions" is a collection of short works in Capote's signature "creative non-fiction" style. The central piece, "Handcarved Coffins," is an exploration of a serial killing spree in a small town and is almost as good as "In Cold Blood." In some parts frothy, in some parts dark, "Music for Chameleons" is always entertaining.
jm_arroyo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A very natural style. At times funny, at times more dramatic. "Handcarved Coffins" shows Truman at his (dramatic) best. In "Conversational Portraits", the 3rd and last part of this book, one wonders if some stories are real or made up. The one about Marylin Monroe is a beauty. Highly recommended
Capfox on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I picked this up some time last year, partly because I never read anything by the guy, and partly because I recalled a friend saying this was one of her favorite books. Capote definitely has a style, and it's on display here in this collection of non-fiction stories and conversations. At least, one assumes it's non-fiction; he says so, at any rate.He did live a very varied life, so it's easy enough to accept the stories as true; the old woman with the cats in her freezer, being smuggled onto a plane by Pearl Bailey, etc. Some of the stories are definitely better than others, and the showpiece, Handcarved Coffins, was only all right, all around. Most of the "conversational portraits" in the third section of the book, except for the last one, were very well done, and even that one (a conversation with himself) wasn't that bad. The earlier ones didn't get into my head as much, I have to say.His writing style does draw in the reader, though, and the decision to include himself in the stories probably was a good one; his influence on what's going on is a big key to the reactions of people around him. Not a great book, for me, but a good introduction to Capote, I s'pose.
poplin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Music for Chameleons is my go-to book whenever I need to read something comforting and comfortable; I have read this collection of short stories at least fifteen times. Capote is master at creating settings and conjuring up personalities. The central story, a novella entitled Handcarved Coffins, follows the same guidelines as In Cold Blood yet is even more terrifying and haunting.
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TomBarnes39 More than 1 year ago
Music for Chameleons and Hand Carved Coffins is a diverse collection of short stories written by Truman Capote.
Music sets the mood in Fort de France on the island of Martinique as a silver haired aristocrat plays a Mozart sonata on a piano to the delight of the skittering chameleons.
Then there¿s Mr. Jones the blind wheelchair bound Brooklyn rooming house resident that turns out, in the end, to be nothing short of a human chameleon.
On a cold winter¿s night TC was fortunate to seek shelter and a phone in the house with the `Lamp in the Window¿ and a homeowner that was nocturnal, lonely and trusting.
`Hand Carved Coffins¿ is billed as a nonfiction account of an American crime set in an unsophisticated farm and ranch community. However, the string of murders apparently perpetrated by one person was anything but unsophisticated.
Truman Capote is as comfortable walking down Second Avenue with Mary Sanchez, the cleaning lady in `A Day¿s Work¿ as he was with friends at a posh reception in Turtle Bay.
The preface to the book gives an insight to the writing discipline TC exacted upon himself.
Keep a copy of `Music¿ as reference to a writing style you¿re not likely to see again.
Tom Barnes author of `The Goring Collection.¿
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Capote, before Phillip Seymour Hoffman bore witness to the author's resurrection, was no stranger to notoriety. His famous intimations with Marily Monroe coupled with the adaption of 'Breakfast At Tiffany's' left Capote a celebrity he was only thrilled to accept. While this was a legacy he was indelibly glad to leave behind, it is the young, distinctly southern stories found in 'Music For Chameleons' that first enchanted readers. With a coy and collected style riddled with shrewd wit and black humor, Capote hypnotizes his readers with gothic tales of a world seemingly next door, a dark and penetrating glance behind the surface. Cool and poetic, the machinations operate smoothly despite any reservations due to the author's incredibly young age.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really like the variety in Mr.Capote's book. Yet, I am sorry that he had to used such large amounts of vulgar language. I did love the part where he visited the lady with the cat's in her freezer.