An old, never-before-published Truman Capote story is now available for the first time. Capote died in 1984 at the age of 59, but three years after his death, Answered Prayers was published. It was made up of three excerpts that were originally published in Esquire in 1975 and 1976.
But according to The New York Times, Capote always talked of additional excerpts. Earlier this fall, one of those stories, “Yachts and Things,” was found among Capote’s papers in the Manuscripts and Archives Division of the New York Public Library. It has since been published in Vanity Fair and online.
Without Capote alive to explain the story, editors and writers are left to analyze the newly discovered material, as John Williams explains.
In Vanity Fair, Sam Kashner writes that, “In ['Yachts and Things'], the narrator is clearly Truman, and ‘Mrs. Williams’ is possibly The Washington Post’s publisher Katharine Graham.” Gerald Clarke, the author of “Capote: A Biography,” told the magazine that the story was “vintage Truman. ‘A new moon, skinny as a slice of lemon rind’ — you can’t beat that. The title, ‘Yachts and Things,’ is indeed the title of one of the chapters he planned for ‘Answered Prayers.’ But that chapter would have been much longer than six pages, and it would have moved the narrative in a way that this piece, which is entirely self-contained, does not.”
I always think it’s so interesting when “lost” material is newly “found.” I have to wonder: was it really just found or is it something the NYPL has been knowingly sitting on for years?