Truman Persons would never have done. But, fortunately, little Truman’s mother married a second time. Instead of evoking sexless bureaucracy, the future writer had the name of a bullfighter’s cloak. His mother also provided him with a wretched childhood, so, along with talent and ambition, he had everything.
George Plimpton tells Truman’s story by scissoring dozens o f interviews and arranging the snippets in chronological order. It is a form that worked brilliantly for Edie, his biography of a Warhol groupie, but is less successful when the subject is the author, as Norman Mailer says, of one of the two best novels about New York (or three, if you include one by Edith Wharton, which Mailer never would; the others are, of course, The Great Gatsby and Breakfast at Tiffany’s). With particularly cruel irony, the book spends far less time on Truman’s literary merit than on his social success and disaster; chatter, not serious comment, reflects the milieu in which he spent his last years.
Truman (as he is called throughout) grew up in Monroeville, Alabama, a freckle on the map that also produced his friend Harper Lee. His mother and father, uninterested in him from the first, left him with relatives