Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin ****

A novel about the gossip and scandal surrounding a short story of gossip and scandal recounting the original gossip and scandal. A non-fiction novel about the popularizer of the non-fiction novel. The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin is a Russian nesting doll of Truman Capote and New York City high society in the 60s and 70s.

The main characters, Truman Capote and his glamorous swans, are people raised in modest circumstances who moved to New York City and hit it big with the attitude
"I'm different. I'm special. I'm more."
Truman Capote coupled this arrogance with a disdain for his roots.
"No one else in that dusty Alabama town knew what a writer was."
This success is shown to be coupled with a private desperation.
"It's not easy, you know, trying so hard to-to act as if everything is just fine."
The women subscribe to pre-feminist doctrines.
"Men, the dear boys, did need to be taken care of, and American women were particularly bad at that, so intent on having their own fun."
The story presents an almost humorous view of the super-rich. Babe Paley was served on her own private china in hotels which stocked it just for her, and her newspapers were ironed.

In the end, this is a cautionary tale of fame and fortune.
"Because being rich, she'd found out, wasn't really that much fun."
Like a Greek tragedy all the proud fall into an abyss of death, despair, and loneliness.