November 2, 2005

The Razor's Edge and Truman Capote

Somerset Maugham's famous work The Razor's Edge has been made into a movie twice: first, with Tyrone Power in the lead; and later, with Bill Murray portraying the seeker, Larry Darrell. It's hard to say which version I prefer at this point.

Both made me think - and Bill Murray's version introduced me to the work of Maugham, for which I'm very grateful. Edge was one of those books of which I bought multiple copies to share with friends. I was seeking truth, my way of moving forward after a divorce left me lost and brokenhearted - and this book helped me. I wanted to share that.

A movie brought me to the book, to the author.
And, a movie has done that again, with Capote.

Not that I haven't read Truman Capote before now - I have. I think I own copies of most all his work - Other Voices, Other Rooms through Unanswered Prayers. (Why is it that Dominick Dunne always come to mind here?)

But the movie Capote introduced me to the writer - and his process - that I hadn't understood before now. I don't know that I like the man. Take for example that snide aside he makes at the bar about sweet, kind, patient Harper Lee -- well, yes, it's scripted - but when you recall all the Capote interviews, it's accurate.

This was not a nice man. This was, however, a great writer.

Either you are a writer, or you're not. And I think many writers waste away in jobs that miss the mark for them -- stymied by a lack of confidence, or maybe a fear of money - and the lack of it. Doesn't matter. Writers just are. They are humans given charge over words, and only some take up that responsibility.

Capote, the movie, explained to me that writers aren't perfect. They may not be kind or meek or subtle. They come in all shapes and sizes, and some can be quite disheartening in their failings.

Capote took writers off the pedestal for me -- and left the writing there.

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