Tennessee Williams on Truman Capote: Magical Confetti

Truman Capote/Robert Mapplethorpe

Interview with Tennessee Williams
Conducted by James Grissom
Via Telephone

Writers are performers, craftsmen, and fabulists. If they are any good, I should add. Writers take from life incidents and emotions, and they offer, through words, what they think they meant. Who can say if this is true? It is true to the writer, who not only conveys the facts, but as an artist, as a craftsman, has an obligation to shift the words, the lighting, the rhythm of the truth to make it work as literature. This is lying, on a higher scale of morality, perhaps, but it is lying.

The lying can never move into the heart of the writer as he lives and sees things. This is poisonous, suicidal. I think this happened to Truman [Capote]. The artistry he displayed in his work failed to satisfy him, and so the gilding, the fistfuls of magical confetti he threw about his writing pages, moved into his life; his walks down the street; his letters; his silent moments high in his little aquarium he never could afford.

The fantasy of this writer is that I can control things through the words, the characters, the paragraphs, the spines of a printed work. Within the world, I have no control, which should now be obvious to you. The fantasy of Truman was that he might wish things into being, and soon the wish was reality, and he got lost in the confetti. He grasped for the little pieces of colored paper, and forgot, sadly, that he was an artist.

Remember, please, that he was an artist.

© 2017  James Grissom


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