the biggest attraction to this collection is "Handcarved Coffins", an excellent account of serial killing in a small town. by turns mysterious, frustrating, tense, and bizarre, the accounting details Capote's relationship with the FBI agent assigned to the case, who has in turn romantically assigned himself to one of the potential victims. the modus operandi of the killer is original and very upsetting. the identity of the killer does not appear to be in question; what arises over the course of the piece is a dual portrait of a haunted agent and an arrogant, infuriatingly entitled potential serial killer. intriguing stuff, although the ambiguity of the ending may be problematic for some. and of course there is always the chance that this True Crime story, told in the style of In Cold Blood, isn't a true crime at all, and is instead a combined product of Capote's overactive imagination and his narcissism as well. eh, who cares. whatever it may be in the end, it is still a riveting and beautifully spun tale of longing, horror, the sadness of small towns and broken lives, and the toxic power of the very rich, the very greedy, and the very, very psychotic.
the rest of the collection is an assortment of interviews, musings, and at least one very interesting narrative 'story'. at times very precise portraits and landscapes are drawn, at other times Capote's preciousness and tendencies towards navel-gazing and star-worship come across a bit much. the pieces "Dazzle" and "Nocturnal Turnings" are fascinating and uncomfortable: nakedly honest self-portraits of an author whose penchants for self-admiration and self-loathing seem to be drawn in equal measures.
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