Book Heaven

Where the world of books and life intersect

Location: South Amboy, New Jersey

I am deeply involved in trying to solve the discrepancy between being interested in zen and trying to acquire all the things I've been accumulating

Monday, May 08, 2006

A Million and One Little Lies

Although it has evidently been out since March, I just noticed the James Frey parody A Million Little Lies by James Pinocchio in my local drug den, er .... bookstore. I'm pleased to report that I'm immune to the charms of this little book and have no intention of reading (or acquiring) it. I do however have another little lie to report.

In the area of creative nonfiction, this is a real beaut. In the April 3, 2006 New Yorker there's a letter from Allen and Wallace Shawn, sons of the legendary New Yorker editor, William Shawn. It seems that they wrote in to shed light on a few inconsistencies in the movie version of Capote. Well, maybe more than a few.

Their dispensing of the real truth about their father's role in the Capote saga is skillfully and subtly delivered.

Here's the film version contrasted with the real unvarnished Shawn version:

Film: Shawn speaks of "building interest" in Capote's piece (In Cold Blood)
Real Shawn: he didn't believe that articles or their authors should be publicized

Film: Shawn organizes a book reading at which he personally introduces Capote
Real Shawn: he never organized a reading and he never addressed one -- not just for Capote but for any writer. Moreover, they add, he never spoke in public on any occasion

Film: Shawn arranges to have Richard Avedon go to Kansas to photograph Capote and the two killers
Real Shawn: he never published any photographs by Richard Avedon in the magazine and he didn't think the New Yorker should run photographs

Film: Shawn flies out to Kansas to visit Capote
Real Shawn: this is the best one of all -- Shawn never went to Kansas to visit Capote -- the sons end the letter with this indisputable piece of truth -- "in fact he
never had the experience of flying on an airplane."

Who's the real legend here? I only hope that in some future age when the do the movie version of Shawn they get at least some of this stuff right!


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