This unfinished novel has three subjects and two styles. The first chapter (the longest, “Unspoiled Monsters”) is mostly chronological and has brilliant, captivating passages and remarks about writing as a career, the mind set of a writer and marketing forces. For a magazine editor/publisher the writer spreads his cheeks, a casting couch into publishing.
The second chapter (39 pages, “Kate McCloud”) happens in Europe and is chronological. Without much money the character tags along with rich people. Comments about writing disappear, but those overseas New Yorkers and East Coast Establishment mucks are superficial and empty.
The Third Chapter (41 pages, “La Cote Basque) presents a change of style – stream of consciousness, Virginia Woolf foibles come to mind through paragraphs of endurance, nothing to follow, little to comprehend but phrases interspersed here and there and a story of meandering words which come to nothing. It is a form of writing exercise, an experiment. Chapter 3 was published in the mid-1970s and was not well received. There was little effort to conceal or camouflage who the many characters were – although in East Coast fashion they said little of consequence and nothing significant. After its publication in Esquire magazine, Capote’s rich friends ended contact with him.
The changes of style and substance produce varied work in this three chapters. The first chapter is well-written, although it fails to present a story. It is a series of colorful antidotes, adjectives and description adding character to sentences (and not necessarily to human beings written about). There are not many thoughts and ideas transmitted, instantly but not throughout the 90 pages. Hence, any conveyance of theme is absent.
The second chapter also becomes antidotal with adjectives, and overlong sentences. It is fun and funny to read but takes the reader no where. It is like watching TV. The third chapter is the worst from the standpoint of writing, in contribution to the craft and in explaining itself. It seems there are inside jokes and inside knowledge. It was written and published first. The targeted readers apparently discovered themselves. Capote may have chosen the stream of consciousness, or overlong sentences in paragraphs covering a least a page to conceal his intentions. He was mislead by style and substance. He did not define the characters and give them much action. He labeled characters within sentences by describing them – this lumpen mass sits on her couch all days and eats bon-bons. A writer must be much more discrete.
Reference points can be made to another novel, The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald refused to include party conversations, or intelligible dialogue which is Capote’s forte. Every party scene in Gatsby could be supplemented by dialogue from Answered Prayers. If it were the purpose to define New York Citiers and the wealthy as they phonies they are, Capote only had to set out their conversations: empty, unconnected and coarse. On page 74-75 the character Aces Nelson is a doubleganger for Nick the Narrator in Gatsby.
In another writing I criticized Fitzgerald for using rioters for roisters at the Yale Club in New York City (Gatsby, page 57) However Fitzgerald may have property used rioters [shorthand for gay, circa. 1925(?)], as Capote describes a gay encounter in the Yale Club. (Answered Prayers, 94)