day 208 – mr. jones, truman capote
mr. jones, truman capote pp3
music for chameleons
london: penguin 1993
‘It was not a shabby place, but a pleasantly furnished, elderly brownstone kept hospital-neat by its owners, two maiden sisters.’
Unsurprisingly for Capote, his anecdotal story and the easy, conversational manner of storytelling make it impossible to infer whether it is embellished memoir or complete fiction.
The narrator, whom we may, or may not, presume is the author lives in a rented room next to the eponymous hero, who receives all manner of visitors and phonecalls to his room ‘often after midnight and as early as six in the morning.’ Our narrator, evidently not wanting to be a scandal-stirrer or cast aspersion on anyone’s character, is quick to make clear that his neighbour ‘was not a drug dealer or a fortuneteller’.
Capote sets his story in the winter of 1945 – that perhaps points to deciphering the enigma of Mr. Jones more than anything else in this story.
The brevity of this anecdote barely allows for description of place, setting, decor, or indeed very much at all. almost all of the attention is given to building up a picture of Mr. Jones.
‘There was no mistaking that lean, distinctive face, those high cheekbone with the single scarlet star-shaped birthmark.’
The story is set in 3 clear times: the first then – the winter of 1945; several months later; ten years after that. Interestingly, the first the first two scenes are told in the past tense.
‘I moved to Manhattan. Several months later I returned’
The third is recorded in the present.
‘Now it is a zero-cold December afternoon. I am riding in a subway car. There are only a few other passengers.’
What effect does this have on us, the collective reader?
Who keeps up with the Jones?
Indeed, who checks in to a hotel, motel or boarding house as Mr. Jones?