Via the always interesting and inspiring Letters of Note, a site that I can’t recommend enough: A 1970 letter from the Naked Lunch deviant to the Breakfast at Tiffany’s / In Cold Blood author. Burroughs had a long-running ambient feud with Capote for various petty and legitimate reasons, but Burroughs seems to have been particularly incensed by Capote endorsing the idea that the police should be able to get results by any means necessary, legal or otherwise.
You can (and should!) read the whole thing, but the part that particularly impressed me was Burroughs’ curse on Capote for– as Burroughs saw it, anyway– misusing and squandering his talent. I would tend to agree that this is a cardinal sin of the talented, one that’s disappointingly often committed by precisely those successful writers, artists, film makers, musicians (etc.) who have reached the stage where they probably could put their foot down and take a stand, or gone beyond that to the stage where they needn’t compromise at all, but do it anyway. Unfortunately many of them get greedy, or complacent, or they start operating as autopilot pastiches of themselves, or paradoxically their success actually cuts them off from the place their talent originally sprung from.
Anyway, here’s Uncle Bill: Continue Reading