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Truman Capote Reading List

As part of our Truman Capote celebration starting this month in conjunction with his birthday and the 50th anniversary of the publication of In Cold Blood, we wanted to give readers a complete list of his work. While Capote may not have published as much as other writers of his caliber, he leaves behind several memorable novels, some amazing short stories and plenty of books and films inspired by him. If you’ve only read Breakfast at Tiffany’s or In Cold Blood, consider expanding your knowledge of Capote by picking up a novella or book of his short stories. You may just find yourself reading everything he ever wrote.

Other Voices, Other Rooms (1948)
Capote’s first published novel, said to be semi-autobiographical and inspired by a walk in the woods in Monroeville, Alabama. It debuted at No. 9 on The New York Times bestseller list and earned Capote a spot in the Southern literary canon.

treeofnightA Tree of Night and Other Stories (1949)
A collection of short stories that includes Capote’s first published story, “Miriam,” among seven others.

Local Color (1950)
Includes notes, sketches and vignettes on cities or countries Capote lived in or visited, including New Orleans, New York, Hollywood, Haiti and Spain.

The Grass Harp (1951)
Inspired by memories of his Alabama childhood, this novel is about an orphaned boy and two elderly ladies who observe life from a tree. Capote wrote a play version the following year.

A Christmas Memory (1956)
Random House published a special edition of this memoir originally published in Mademoiselle magazine.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1958)
Perhaps Capote’s most famous novella about socialite Holly Golightly, brought to life on screen by Audrey Hepburn, this story first appeared in Esquire and was then published by Random House containing three other short stories.

Selected Writings of Truman Capote (1963)
A mid-career retrospective anthology including both fiction and nonfiction.

In Cold Blood (1965)
Capote’s legendary nonfiction novel detailing the 1959 murders of four members of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas. Harper Lee helped him with the research for this book, which was first published in four parts in The New Yorker and has had three film adaptations.

The Thanksgiving Visitor (1968)
Capote’s sequel to “A Christmas Memory” was published as a gift book by Random House.

musicforchameleonsThe Dogs Bark: Public People and Private Places (1973)
An anthology of Capote’s memoir-like works written throughout his life.

Music for Chameleons (1980)
A mixed collection of short stories and nonfiction essays and articles.

One Christmas (1983)
An autobiographical short story published by Random House as a gift book. This was Capote’s final work published before his death in 1984.

Answered Prayers: The Unfinished Novel (1987)
Published posthumously, Capote’s final unfinished novel is based on his friendships with female socialites. Four? chapters published in Esquire before his death caused many of his friends to shun him and were seen in poor taste.

A Capote Reader (1987)
A great place to start for any budding fan, this edition contains much of his published work, including 12 of his short stories, The Grass Harp and Breakfast at Tiffany’s, travel sketches, portraits, reporting and essays.

The Complete Stories of Truman Capote (2004)
An anthology of 20 short stories, ranging from the Gothic South to the East Coast.

summercrossingToo Brief a Treat: The Letters of Truman Capote (2004)
Biographer Gerald Clarke brings together the private letters of Capote encompassing more than four decades and offering an inside look at Capote the person rather than the celebrity.

Summer Crossing (2006)
Actually Capote’s first novel, Summer Crossing was cast aside and thought to have been lost for more than 50 years. The manuscript was rescued in 2004 from a Brooklyn apartment Capote once lived in.

Portraits and Observations: The Essays of Truman Capote (2007)
Published by Random House, a volume dedicated solely to all of Capote’s essays on travel, fame, fortune and art.

The Early Stories of Truman Capote (2015)
Rediscovered in the archives of the New York Public Library and published by Random House last year, this volume contains 14 previously unpublished stories written by Capote when he was a teenager.


Other Books of Interest: 

Tru & Nelle by G. Neri (2016)
A fictionalized account of the real-life friendship between Truman Capote and Harper Lee in Monroeville, Alabama.

swansThe Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin (2015)
A fiction novel about the scandalous and enthralling friendship between Truman Capote and socialite Babe Paley — and what happens after the fallout from Answered Prayers.

Brooklyn: A Personal Memoir: With the lost photographs of David Attie (2014)
In 2001, Capote’s stylish homage to Brooklyn was brought back into print, but not until more than 50 years after the original photographs commissioned to illustrate the essay were discovered by the late photographer’s son. Also found among the negatives were previously unknown portraits of Capote.

Truman Capote and the Legacy of “In Cold Blood” by Ralph F. Voss (2011)
Ralph F. Voss was a high school junior in Plainville, Kansas, in mid-November of 1959 when four members of the Clutter family were murdered in Holcomb. He examines Capote and In Cold Blood from many perspectives, not only as the crowning achievement of Capote’s career, but also as a story in itself.

Party of the Century: The Fabulous Story of Truman Capote and His Black and White Ball by Deborah Davis (2007)
Lavishly illustrated with photographs and drawings of ball guests, ranging from Frank Sinatra to Kennedys and Rockefellers, this is a portrait of revelry at the height of the swinging sixties.

Capote: A Biography by Gerald Clark (1988)
Based on hundreds of hours of interviews with Capote himself, as well as interviews with nearly everyone else who knew him, Capote’s astonishing story is told by Gerald Clark.

For this list, we tried to stick to books and stories that are accessible to readers and decided not to include magazine or newspaper articles, screenplays or musicals Capote wrote. 

Literary Friday, Edi
Truman Capote: Story