Genres: Historical Fiction
I didn’t think I would pick up Swan Song, but my recent undertake of reading up the nominees for the longlist of the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2019 made me more curious about this book. I haven’t read anything by Truman Capote yet, although In Cold Blood has been on my list for years. I did find Swan Song much more a collection of gossip about the glamorous women in the 60s that Truman Capote hang out with – before they all shunned him after reading what he wrote in the Esquire.
This was in line with books like Age of Innocence and People Like Us, although I wish the language had been a little more lyrical and, say, darker. As it was (and perhaps this impression is influenced by the fact that I listened to this book instead of reading it), Truman Capote came off as a caricature, toad-like, elf-like and quite malicious. I do not know how much this is accurate, but I wished to see a bit more greyness and a little less Gossip Girl. I also worry about having the only gay main character being characterized in such a way. It made me a bit uncomfortable.
Stories of glamorous, beautiful, rich women whose lives aren’t as perfect as they seem will always fascinate . It’s probably what kept me reading on, really, because this book was so, so long that I got bored many times, then interested again, then bored again. This book is fairly long, 500 pages, nothing absurd, but it feels very long. The coming back and forth with the story of each of the Swans, who are all gorgeous, rich women whose stories are full of drama and unfaithfulness and even murder.
I will not recommend the audio narration. It was not badly done, but the voice of Truman Capote was too cartoonish. I listened to an interview with him, and I think the narration was done with a slightly whiny and more high-pitched tone than necessary. Which makes for 17h of a rather annoying voice coming and going.
I spend lots of time searching the main characters of this story, each of the Swans a gorgeous woman with an interesting, scandalous story, beautiful faces and stylish 50s clothes. An average of three and a half husbands. It’s incredible how much cheating was going on and all the socializing and smoking, I was exhausted. Thank gosh for my quiet, boring life! There is some poetic justice in having this book being told by the point of view of the women he wrote about.
I appreciate what the author did in terms of fiction with a story that is based on facts that are absolutely fascinating by itself. But the book itself felt way too long and too slow. The last 25% although still too slow, is far more touching than the rest of the book, describing Truman’s descent into illness and darkness. It’s sad, so very sad. I liked that ending much more than the rest of the book.