• Rahul Mahesh

"MUSIC FOR CHAMELEONS" by TRUMAN CAPOTE

"My life-as an artist, at least- can be charted as precisely as a fever: the high and lows, the very definite cycles...one day, I started writing not knowing that I had chained myself for life to a noble but merciless master."


-MUSIC FOR CHAMELEONS (1980)




TRUMAN CAPOTE


When one talks about writers who take stylistic challenges and revolutionises the way one approaches the art of writing or for that matter reading, Truman Capote's name rings loud. The sole reason being that Capote truly the "merciless master" that is literature and decided to hone it to an extent that it becomes tasteful and unique. The book, "Music for Chameleons", might not be something you must've heard the name Truman Capote as he is known for the more commercial successes like Breakfast at Tiffany's and In Cold Blood. But this book could, in many ways, be a hidden gem in his illustrious career.

The conversational cadence of the writing, the matter of fact and mostly journalistic approach make for a text that is far more fascinating than any regular fictional story. The influence of real-life experiences juxtaposed with the regular candour for the extravagant, the stories in this book make for an intriguing read. The preface of the book undresses Capote as a writer and lays bare the true nature and his ambitions about this book and his approach to writing itself. As a journalist, he has encountered his fair share of unnerving stories and the novel In Cold Blood is a testament to that knowledge. In this book, Truman deviates from the traditions of writing and puts himself at the forefront of all the stories and could in many ways be a diary entry into the events that may have occurred in his life.

To say that this might be a radical change in style that you must have read is an understatement. This is because I did find myself captivated by the nature of stories told in this book. Music for Chameleons is a masterful piece of literature for the reason that it deviates from the regular and the boring and brings in a perspective that feels almost as intimate as the writer himself. There is a revelation of Truman Capote as a person, his tendencies and habits including his idea of relationships and his interactions. This book might be an important read for writers or anyone enthusiastic about literature as the cadence of the book portrays an alternative array of information which far from the traditional methods of storytelling. For that reason, Capote is a genius.

The non-fiction narrative which brings forth a conversational aspect into a crime scene and the turns one takes as we move down the rabbit hole of a mystery is something that one does not have the liberty of experiencing in most books. As a journalistic writer, Capote puts forth the premier principles of facts first approach that takes the narrative beyond the observational involvement. "Conversational Portraits", a section in the book, is one of the more engaging and fascinating aspects of Capote's writing. It is fluid, dynamic and in many ways magnetic in a manner that seldom pulls readers. The beauty of Truman Capote's individuality is expressed right from the preface of this book and this makes for a fascinating deconstruction of the life of the writer and his approach to writing.

Music for Chameleons is weird, absurd and at times surreal. It is enigmatic and slightly imbalanced but it is often honest. It could be one of the most candid introductions and insights into the inner workings of the person behind the pen. One of the more complicated figures in contemporary literature, Truman Capote reveals himself in a manner that is uncanny and therein lies of the beauty of the man.


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