Ben Bolling is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where his research and teaching intersect American literary and cultural studies, performance, historiography, and media studies. With Matthew J. Smith he edited It Happens at Comic-Con: Ethnographic Essays on a Pop Culture Phenomenon (McFarland, 2014). He is currently transitioning his dissertation “Serial Historiography: Literature, Narrative History, and the Anxiety of Truth” into a monograph.
This essay examines the serialized accrual of narrative in the transmedia celebrity construct of Truman Capote. Through historical and literary analysis of texts ranging from the travelogue The Muses are Heard (1956), the profile of Marlon Brando in “The Duke in His Domain” (1957) and the nonfiction novel In Cold Blood (1965), I argue that Capote’s most enduring text is his celebrity—an embodied serial that may be read as the performance of his unfinished masterpiece Answered Prayers. Capote as the celebrity-author models a site where narrative identities are rendered legible by the confluence of textual work and public performance.