Truman Capote’s Preemptive Abandonment: The “Nuclear” Option

Truman Capote’s Preemptive Abandonment: The “Nuclear” Option

Another key motive behind the writing of Capote’s Answered Prayers was a strategy I like to call, in morbid reference to “nuclear options,” preemptive abandonment. Capote sauteed the rich and famous in the book because he began to fear they did not love him anymore.  Now, for someone with the kind of rejection-sensitivity that tormented Capote, the notion that love loss was on its way would have been acutely distressing.  What to do?  How to anticipate?  (Those are the questions that get asked unconsciously).  Truman’s evolved strategies kicked in.  He abandoned before getting abandoned.  He cut his losses.  In fact, he sidestepped the losses altogether by leaving first.  Then—and in this effort he was unsuccessful—he pretended not to feel pain, not to feel any regret.  For Capote, pain was more vulnerability, and the last thing he felt comfortable being was vulnerable.  So he professed invulnerability.  But he was not quite so bulletproof as he liked to think he was.  He burned the bridges, then he pined for the other side.  It was checkmate.

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