Saturday, August 7, 2010

Paris Review, Summer 1957-Truman Capote/The Art of Writing #17

Truman Capote: Nancy Crampton
(Interview conducted by Pati Hill for Issue 17, Spring-Summer 1957 of the Paris Review)


Did you have much encouragement [of your writing] in [your] early days, and if so, by whom?

Good Lord! I’m afraid you’ve let yourself in for quite a saga. . . . I was thought somewhat eccentric, which was fair enough, and stupid, which I suitably resented. . . . Well, finally, I guess I was around twelve, the principal at the school I was attending paid a call on my family, and told them that in his opinion, and in the opinion of the faculty, I was “subnormal.” He thought it would be sensible, the humane action, to send me to some special school equipped to handle backward brats. Whatever they may have privately felt, my family as a whole took official umbrage, and in an effort to prove I wasn’t subnormal, pronto packed me off to a psychiatric study clinic at a university in the East where I had my I.Q. inspected. I enjoyed it thoroughly and—guess what—came home a genius, so proclaimed by science. I don’t know who was the more appalled: my former teachers, who refused to believe it, or my family, who didn’t want to believe it—they’d just hoped to be told I was a nice normal boy.

(click here for the full PDF version of this slice of literary history on the Paris Review website)

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