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Music for Chameleons: New Writing (Penguin Modern Classics) [Paperback]

Truman Capote
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
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Book Description

25 Jan 2001 Penguin Modern Classics
At the centre of Music for Chameleons is Handcarved Coffins, a ‘nonfiction novel’ based on the brutal crimes of a real-life murderer.Taking place in a small Midwestern town in America, it offers chilling insights into the mind of a killer and the obsession of the man bringing him to justice. Also in this volume are six short stories and seven ‘conversational portraits’ including a touching one of Marilyn Monroe, the ‘beautiful child’ and a hilarious one of a dope-smoking cleaning lady doing her rounds in New York.

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Music for Chameleons: New Writing (Penguin Modern Classics) + The Complete Stories (Penguin Classics) + Other Voices, Other Rooms (Penguin Modern Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (25 Jan 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141184612
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141184616
  • Product Dimensions: 1.7 x 12.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 79,034 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"An incomparable stylist and entertainer...clean and cool...Ýwith a superb, near-perfect pitch with dialogue." --"The New York Times Book Review" "Everything is displayed in this book: insights and recollections of the famous and the obscure; old jokes and fresh wit...These stories and vingettes will endure." --"New Republic"

About the Author

Truman Capote was born in New Orleans in 1925 and was raised in various parts of the south, his family spending winters in New Orleans and summers in Alabama and New Georgia. By the age of fourteen he had already started writing short stories, some of which were published. He left school when he was fifteen and subsequently worked for the New Yorker which provided his first - and last - regular job. Following his spell with the New Yorker, Capote spent two years on a Louisiana farm where he wrote Other Voices, Other Rooms (1948). He lived, at one time or another, in Greece, Italy, Africa and the West Indies, and travelled in Russia and the Orient. He is the author of many highly praised books, including A Tree of Night and Other Stories (1949), The Grass Harp (1951), Breakfast at Tiffany's (1958), In Cold Blood (1965), which immediately became the centre of a storm of controversy on its publication, Music for Chameleons (1980) and Answered Prayers (1986), all of which are published by Penguin. Truman Capote died in August 1984.

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb writing 4 May 2007
By Sally Wilton VINE VOICE
Seeing the film 'Capote' last year encouraged me to seek out the writing of Truman Capote. Music for Chamelions is one of 3 books of short stories I have read by Truman who I now believe must be one of the greatest US writers of the last century. This is a richly written book to read and reread. I loved in particular the short stories in the final part of the book, going to work with his cleaner for example only makes me wish I could write so brilliantly about what could have been mundane tasks. The portrait of Marilyn Monroe gives a slightly new insight into her personality whilst lunch with an old school chum wrongly or rightly accused of paedophilia keeps you wondering long after you have finished reading. Truman was also a great at PR and it is no chance that the picture on the front cover made this a best seller.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars genius 20 July 2008
By b.lops
This is the best collection of short stories I've ever read and I urge everyone to give this a go even if you haven't read short stories before. The preface too is brilliant, Capote explains what it is to him to be a writer and I just wish some of todays 'bestselling writers' had read this before they put pen to paper. The short story of the title music for chameleons is wonderfully written, so descriptive and touching. Mojave too is stunning writing. The story Handcarved Coffins is based on a real life crime and although I understand what he was trying to do I have to say that personally it was my least favourite. Beautiful Child is about Marilyn and captures the complexity of her character and life so well.
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great collection of writings 5 Jan 2002
By Jason Parkes #1 HALL OF FAME
Having only read 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' (great- though it is hard to shake Audrey Hepburn from your mind!), this was the first real Capote I'd read. It won't be the last.
This is a great collection of new writings, dedicated to Tennessee Williams- parts of which were printed in various magazines. OK, I don't appreciate Capote's view on writers such as Burroughs, Kerouac, Selby Jr. ("That's just typing"). But reading this, you know he had a point (though 'MFC' could be seen as a late masterpiece- as 'Big Sur' is- maybe 'Answered Prayers' is his 'Desolation Angels'?)...The preface is great & is quoted in Capote's soul-brother Pedro Almodovar's masterpiece, 'All About My Mother'. It was that which lead me to this book (and the Marilyn cover- which ties in with 'A Beautiful Child' from Part.III- a must for Monroe admirers).
The first part, 'Music for Chameleons' (try & put Gary Numan out of your mind!) consists of six short-stories. All are superb, up there with Carver and Cheever, 'Mojave' sticks out and reminds me of 'Life After God'.
The second part, 'Handcarved Coffins'is a relative of 'In Cold Blood' and 'Then it all came down' (in part III). To see the best nonfiction account of crime this side of 'My Dark Places'- come here.
The third-part focuses on more the journalistic-role of Capote- 'Nocturnal Turnings' (or 'How Siamese Twins Have Sex') was an influence on Marc Almond's ode to masturbation that was 'Mother Fist'. 'A Beautiful Child', along with sections of Cameron Crowe's 'Conversations with Wilder' captures a Monroe minus the character-exhumation. There is love (there was love?)...'Then it all came down' is based around Robert Beausoleil- a Manson-family member who once gravitated towards Arthur Lee's Love.
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