It’s not like I didn’t know how Truman Capote ends up—alone at the Plaza, shunned by his friends, deep in his martinis and trapped in a melancholy he will never escape. Dead at 59. I read Gerald Clarke’s Capote: A Biography in 1989, the first year Ballantine published it in paperback. I was impressionable, not yet 19. Capote, “The Tiny Terror” as he was known, struck me as the perfect template, the one I should definitely use to achieve immediate literary stardom and become a noted figure about town.
A local artist and designer was commissioned to make me a waistcoat with a sketched rendering of young Truman on the back. I started being meaner to my friends. I gloried in public drunkenness, for it was a sign of future greatness and proof of the talent within.
For the SAIT Emery Weal, a college newspaper for which I wrote at the time, my writing took a dark turn. Inspired by the brutal savaging Capote gives some of his closest friends in Answered Prayers, his unfinished final novel, I undertook to dish out the same to…Calgary’s independent dance community, which I was assigned to cover at the time. I spent hours finessing sentences devoted to making sure amateur choreographers felt personally humiliated by the sting of my dismissiveness. I mistook cruelty for artistic integrity, and thought the more hostile I treated the world the more I proved to everyone the genuineness of my genius. I was so sick with Capote that when I heard people calling me caustic I thought they meant it as a compliment.
As, I believe, my writing shows quite clearly, it was entirely delusional to imagine myself as Capote’s next incarnation. I think also, as the dance video below of myself proves beyond any doubt, I never had any business critiquing dance whatsoever. I wish I hadn’t. I’m sorry I did. Truman, you were a bad influence.