Sunday, November 06, 2005

have you seen capote yet? it's very good.

I don't have to, like, provide "specifics" or a "review" or anything, do I? You'll just go see it, right? Or not, but you'll be missing out.

BTW, Harper Lee is a character in the movie. She was a childhood friend of Capote's from Alabama and accompanied him on the first research trip for In Cold Blood. Isn't it statistically remarkable to have such literary talent growing up as neighbors in some southern small town? And to have them be both particularly great short story writers to boot? (To Kill a Mockingbird was originally submitted for publication as a collection of short stories.) And isn't it strange that Harper Lee never wrote another book?

Or, um, well:

19 comments:

Mark Daniels said...

It is remarkable that Harper Lee and Truman Capote lived in the same small town. I'm even more astounded though, when I consider that McCartney, Lennon, Harrison, and Starkey all grew up within close proximity to each other.

jeremy said...

I guess my opinion is that if I hadn't been Harrison and Starkey, it would have been two other people.

Meanwhile, it's a more remarkable coincidence when two people grow up in close proximity and go on to fame for independent work than when they become famous for collaborative work (even if they do independent work afterwards).

Ann Althouse said...

Jeremy: Didn't HL and TC collaborate on "In Cold Blood"? She was his assistant. I actually think "Mockingbird" isn't a good enough work of art to be Capote's. People love it, but... it's rather cartoonish artistically. It's didactic and lacks complexity. He could have helped her, but it doesn't seem to represent his mind.

jeremy said...

Ann: I agree I've never quite understood why TKaM, which I enjoyed, would be a book that would get honors like Book Of The Century, which from at least one place (I forget what) it did.

Of course, it's one thing to suppose that Capote may have been, let's say, more heavily involved in the creation of TKaM than is commonly recognized, but another to suppose that he would give it the same attention as if it was going to be his book under his name. So, while it would be strong evidence against the Capote hypothesis if TKaM was artistically superior to than anything Capote did, I'm not sure the reverse is true.

DannyNoonan said...

"Isn't it statistically remarkable to have such literary talent growing up as neighbors in some southern small town?"

I don't think it is statistically remarkable. There are thousands of small towns. Chances are that one of them would produce two great literary talents.

Randy Moss and Jason Williams played on the same high school Basketball team. Since then, they have both displayed professional quality athleticism in different sports.

This stuff happens and statistically it should... once in a while.

Jim said...

It's fairly obvious that Truman Capote is one of the characters in Mockingbird. He is Dill Harris, Scout's geeky friend who has come to town to stay with relatives.

jeremy said...

Mr. Noonan: Jason Williams and Randy Moss were not from the same town, but they did attend the same high school. Then they went on to less elite achievement in their respective domains (especially Williams) than Lee and Capote. So long as you are willing to ignore a few orders of magnitude in the implied underlying probabilities, I guess, it's a great counterexample.

Jim: Yes, everyone knows Dill is based on Capote. It's not exactly clear what the consequence of that is supposed to be.

Elizabeth said...

And three-quarters of the Boo Radleys hail from Liverpool. Coincidence? Statistically improbable, I'm guessing.

Kieran said...

Isn't it statistically remarkable to have such literary talent growing up as neighbors in some southern small town?

To which I said, animatedly, "If they are so freaking alike, why do they live in the same neighborhood?" And then, even more loudly and slowly: "If they are so freaking alike, why do they live in the same neighborhood? No, that's backward, hang on a minute."

jeremy said...

Yes, the last two comments made me laugh out loud.

Meanwhile, I just finished spending the last five hours reading In Cold Blood from cover-to-cover. I was skeptical of the idea that this was the same author who had written To Kill a Mockingbird, until at the end where they are going to hang one of the killers and they dress him in a giant ham costume.

SWBarns said...

Looks like a statistical cluster.

It is not odd that two friends would follow a similar career path.

A more interesting question might be 'what did the eigth grade English teacher in Monroeville Alabam, do to inspire two great authors?'

Anonymous said...

"Jason Williams and Randy Moss were not from the same town, but they did attend the same high school. Then they went on to less elite achievement in their respective domains (especially Williams) than Lee and Capote. So long as you are willing to ignore a few orders of magnitude in the implied underlying probabilities, I guess, it's a great counterexample."

I think its a great counterexample either way. It was a highschool in a very very small town. And whether they went on to "less elite" achievement in their respective domains than Lee and Capote is apples and oranges. Lee only published one book if I'm not mistaken. It's an amazing book but Williams has had some amazing seasons. And one could make the argument that Moss is the most talented (note: not best) reciever of all time.

jeremy said...

First, you can't use the fact that Lee published only one book for the "coincidence" argument, since it is a central part of the evidence for the "Capote" argument.

Second, I don't care about the size of the town where Belle DuPont high school was located, since Moss wasn't even from Belle. My understanding is that the school participated in AAA athletics in West Virginia, which is the class in that state for the largest schools. If that is wrong, correct me. Otherwise, don't pretend like it's the same thing as their being next door neighbors, and don't pretend like Jason Williams have a couple good seasons is the athletic analogue to an author writing a book that gets on lists of the best 100 American novels ever written.

Anonymous said...

you mess with the bull, you get the horns.

PaulNoonan said...

Perhaps Richard Dean Anderson:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000760/

Was responsible for Raising Arizona:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001054/

or Purple Rain:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0002239/

Minneapolis too big? How about Duluth?

Maybe Bob Dylan:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001168/

has been secretly calling sporting events:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0526564/

or, maybe Timothy Busfield:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0124079/

wrote all of those John Hughes flicks:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000455/

or maybe it was Magic Johnson:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0005059/

or Steven Seagal:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000219/

Maybe author Ian McEwan,

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0568605/

directed cult classic 1979 flick Breaking Away:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0946811/

Perhaps one of that movie's stars, Daniel Stern:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0827663/

has been secretly replaced by the West Wing's Richard Schiff:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0771493/

or perhaps one of the afforementioned penned the work of one hit wonder Lisa Loeb:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0005160/

or maybe that's former Home Improvement star Patricia Richardson's voice on "Stay"

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0005359/

Everyone is from somewhere. Sometimes you get a Ben Affleck along with your Matt Damon.

DannyNoonan said...

My point was never to say that Jason Williams & Randy Moss are a duo that is equally talented to Lee and Capote. I was just talking about odds. Because there are so many small towns it is likely that most of them will produce no literary geniuses or top-tier professional athletes. Some will produce one literary genius or top-tier professional athlete. But the odds are that at least one will produce two literary geniuses.

It’s like the probability of flipping a coin 50 times and getting all heads. This is very very unlikely. But if you flip a coin a billion times in a row the odds are strongly in favor of a head coming up 50 times in a row at some point.

I just don't think the fact that they are from the same town comes close to indicating that Capote had a hand in TKaM

Anonymous said...

Jeremy, what are the odds that so many social psychologists would come from Daum Hall? -Robb

jeremy said...

Daum Hall was a cauldron of talent anyway, that's the difference between it and some random sleepy Alabama town.

jeremy said...

Noonan's etc.: I take up the argument further in today's post.