Lot 1154CAPOTE, TRUMAN
Original manuscript of Truman Capote's final appearance in Interview and a draft of Answered Prayers presented to Brigid Berlin. Truman Capote's final appearance in Andy Warhol's Interview, in April 1980, was a three-page letter from the author addressed simply "Dear Friends." The original letter is three pages in red ink on lined spiral-notebook paper, it is initialed on the second page "T.C." and the final page is a long postscript. 11 x 8 1/2 inches (28 x 22 cm). Stapled, folded, else fine. The letter is accompanied by a typeset proof of it on Interview stationery, two pages, with numerous hand-corrections. The typescript partial draft of Answered Prayers comprises two long chapters of the book housed in the original manila mailing envelope stamp-dated May 1979 addressed to Capote at his U.N. Plaza home from the newly imagined Esquire Fortnightly magazine. Capote has inscribed the envelope in ink "Miss Brigid Berlin/with love from/Truman!" The typescript includes the two long chapters of the book that Capote completed last (after four chapters had been published in Esquire), being Unspoiled Monsters and Kate McCloud. The first leaf provides the title and quotations from Albert Camus and Marianne Moore, the two chapters have separate section titles, overall 146 numbered leaves, 11 1/4 x 8 1/4 inches (28.5 x 22 cm). Fine.
When Truman Capote first spoke to Interview in April 1976 he mentioned what would also be the topic of his final appearance in the magazine: his promise to finish his long awaited book Answered Prayers. Offered is the original humorous three-page letter as published in Interview in April 1980, , the main body of which is worth printing in full:
I hope you enjoyed my December contribution ("Handcarved Coffins"), and will be pleased to hear that it was bought by the movies for a lot of money. Otherwise, all has been a disaster. I went to Switzerland and was run over by a drunken skier weighing more than 250 pounds. It's a wonder that I escaped with only a sprained wrist, sprained back, and a head concussion. So off I flew to California to recuperate, only to arrive during the infamous storms and floods of February. The house of my hostess was in danger of sliding off a cliff. Several rooms were filled with mud. Still, the house survived-and so did I, more or less.
Actually, what I wanted to say is that my appearances in Interview will be irregular for a while because I am at long last finishing Answered Prayers. However, I am preparing a surprise for the September issue: a very long piece, very: a sort of homemade bomb. Meanwhile, all the best,
Capote closes the letter with two postscripts, the first mentioning the September publication of Music for Chameleons, a compilation of his Interview pieces. This letter was published in Interview in April 1980 and ended up being Capote's final appearance in the magazine. Later in 1980 a hallucinatory seizure severely debilitated the author. Truman Capote died in August 1984.
Capote's struggle to complete Answered Prayers, a non-fiction work first envisioned in 1958 as an American Proust, is well documented. First delayed from 1968 to 1972, the book was still unfinished at the time of his death in 1984. Esquire published four chapters between 1975 and 1976, including La Côte Basque 1965, based partly on the personal lives of Capote's friends Babe and William S. Paley. The story caused quite a stir in New York social circles and many thought Capote had committed a sort of social suicide. Present in this draft are the two long chapters, Unspoiled Monsters and Kate McCloud, that Capote wrote last in attempting to complete the book. The draft does not include La Côte Basque 1965 or the other chapters that were published but eventually omitted from the published book.
While Andy Warhol and Truman Capote spent much time together and many recorded interviews exist, it is worthwhile to review what Warhol privately said of Capote at this time as he struggled personally and professionally. In an entry dated February 1980 in The Andy Warhol Diaries, Warhol reports that "He's like a different person now, he's very distant, not friendly. He said he'd have something for Interview's April issue." By April, the month the letter present here was published, things had improved and Warhol notes that "Truman called and he sounded like his old self, he said he'd been working hard. He said that his Chameleon book is going to be in the Book-of-the Month Club..."
As noted, scandal plagued the early excerpts of Answered Prayers and in June 1980 Warhol reported: "Truman said he was writing a piece on Babe Paley, and then Barbara said she wanted to read it to make sure that it wouldn't offend Mr. Paley. She is so ridiculous." On August 5th, Warhol writes: "Missed watching the Today show with Truman but it sounds like it was the same old thing. Brigid tried to get Truman on the phone but it was off the hook. The review of Music for Chameleons in the Times didn't mention that some of the stories were from Interview." Sadly, Warhol's final mention of Capote during his lifetime came in November 1983: "Ran into Lester Persky and Truman Capote who looked pickled. And Truman kissed my hand. What does that mean? And I asked him if he was going to the party afterwards and he said 'I can drink at home.'"
Brigid Berlin was also quite close with Truman Capote, particularly after she began working full-time at the Factory in 1976. Where Warhol would often tempt Brigid with food and alcohol, she and Capote shared their attempts to get, and stay, sober. In her memoir The BB Tapes, Brigid wrote "I worked with Truman Capote on pieces he wrote for Interview that eventually became Music for Chameleons. We became good friends. Sometimes after working all day we would go out and have our slips, drinking vodka and grapefruit juice. I'd pass out and wake up in his apartment the next morning feeling guilty as we both were supposed to be on the wagon." In the memoir, Berlin also transcribes a conversation with Capote in which he reports he will be providing a series to Interview starting in April 1980 and that he must finish Answered Prayers because the publishers had him against a wall, he had money problems, and was debilitated by anxiety and alcohol binges. Brigid, as if attempting to save the embattled author from himself, implores him "You've got to finish it" to which Capote responds "I've rethought everything about it so much that now I have to read it and put it together. I suppose that if I really just stuck at it through thick and thin ... I could finish it up by the end of the year." Answered Prayers was finally published posthumously in 1986.
For the quotes from Andy Warhol see The Andy Warhol Diaries, edited by Pat Hackett, First Twelve Edition, 2014, various pages.
Interview republished Capote's 1984 letter in 2011, see: https://www.interviewmagazine.com/culture/truman-capote
C Estate of Brigid Berlin
Sold for $5,355
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