Last Saturday was sunny and hot for the first time all month. This, plus pollen motes churning in the air, tree trunks soaked by Friday night’s lawn sprinklers, and the necessity for sunglasses built the perfect July day. And so, I got up, got dressed, got out the door, market list in my pocket and satchel (big enough for greens, cheese, wine and probably a whole chicken) slung over my shoulder.

1951-1953

The First Holly

Traveling was forced upon little Truman Capote from the beginning. By the late 1920s, his mother, Lillie Mae, had made a habit of abandoning her son with relatives for months at a time while she went round and round from man to high-falutin’ man. Gradually the handoffs began to hurt Truman less—either that, or he grew more accustomed to the pain—and in time, his knack for adaptation turned into something like genius. He was able to fit in anywhere.

So, are we going to take this interview seriously or not?

Good question. Let’s take it seriously.

 

Why?

I don’t know. Do you think we should be jokey about it?

 

What do you think?

Like I said, I think we should take it seriously.

 

Why?

I just said I don’t know.

 

That sounded a bit hostile. Are you feeling frustrated?

No.

 

Really?

Yes, really. Can we talk about the book?

 

Of course. But only after you’ve calmed down.

I am calm.

 

I’m not so sure. Why don’t you take a few deep breaths?

I’m getting tired of this.

 

Why?

Please ask me about the book.

 

What book?

Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at –

 

Why didn’t you become a doctor?

What?

 

Please answer the question.

I never wanted to be a doctor. I wanted to be a writer.

 

Why didn’t you become a lawyer?

This is ridiculous. I didn’t want –

 

Do you think you’re obsessed with what you “want?”

Are you kidding me? Is this a joke?

 

Not to me.

Why are you doing this?

 

I am trying to learn more about you and your book.

Have you read it?

 

Yes.

Did you like it?

 

Yes.

What did you like about it?

 

Well, as someone who’s always loved Breakfast at Tiffany’s, it was fascinating to read about how it got made, and all the anxiety Audrey Hepburn was going through at the time. I had no idea making the movie was such a struggle for her. I mean I’ve never really seen that side of her before.

And how about all that stuff with her husband?

 

Mel Ferrer?

Yes. Those things he said to her.

 

I was pretty shocked. It seems like it was kind of a strange marriage.

I don’t know if strange is the word I’d use –

 

Have you ever been married?

No.

 

Why? You seem like a nice person.

Thank you, but can we go back to –

 

Though I’m sure you’re pretty damaged. Most writers are.

Actually, I know a lot of writers –

 

Do you think if you were a doctor you would have been happier?

You know, I wanted the book to read like a novel, like –

 

I mean deep down? Really, truly happy?

I’m glad you liked all the dishy, gossipy material, but I want to say also that Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. is as much a cultural history as it is a behind-the-scenes look at –

 

So you didn’t write Breakfast at Tiffany’s?

No. Truman –

 

Okay, then never mind.