A Fictional Take on Famous Frenemies

Writer Kim Powers imagines an early-'80s reconciliation between former friends Harper Lee and Truman Capote in his fascinating new novel, Capote in Kansas.

BY Regina Marler

October 07 2007 11:00 PM ET

"It's
speculative, of course," Powers says. Set in the early
1980s, when Capote was despondent and irrational, washing
down rainbows of pills with alcohol, the novel opens
with Capote calling Lee in the middle of the night
after years of silence. Soon ghosts -- literal and
figurative—are haunting both of them, and Lee starts
getting anonymous packages in the mail from someone
who knows a lot about her.

Powers, who was a
writer for ABC's Good Morning America and is
now at Primetime, was almost finished with his
novel when he learned about the film Capote. "It was
like a knife in the heart," he says. "I thought I was
the guardian of the greatest story ever told."

He felt better
after seeing Capote -- and its lesser-known
rival, Infamous. Capote in Kansas is more Lee's
book than Capote's. Like the movies, and like Capote's
depiction of the Clutter family in In Cold
Blood,
Powers's book bends the truth in the name of art.
These aren't inaccuracies, Powers argues, but "willful
creations." An author's note explains where he veered
from the known facts.

Tags: Books

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