Brooklyn: A Personal Memoir

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by Truman Capote, photographs by David Attie, introduction by George Plimpton, with an afterword by Eli Attie

In 1959, Holiday magazine published a piece by a young Truman Capote titled “Brooklyn: A Personal Memoir” about the neighborhood where Capote lived at the time. Photographer David Attie was hired to provide photographs for the piece, but these photos were never used and fell into obscurity. Over fifty years later, Attie’s son rediscovered these photographs. Brooklyn: A Personal Memoir With the Lost Photographs of David Attie collects these unearthed photos alongside the essay they were originally meant to accompany. These eighty never-before-seen photos of Truman Capote and his Brooklyn Heights neighborhood taken by Attie offer a unique and tantalizing look inside Capote's life and the world he inhabited.

Beloved by literary figures from Walt Whitman to Thomas Wolfe, Brooklyn cast its spell over Truman Capote, too. For a few tranquil years in the Fifties and Sixties, he happily made his home on Willow Street, where he wrote the legendary essay “Brooklyn: A Personal Memoir," "Breakfast at Tiffany's," and "In Cold Blood." In the essay, he vividly evokes the neighborhood he came to know well, bringing to life the landscape that was for him a world of grand homes and dimly recalled gentility, a garden overhung with wisteria, the famous Promenade, the sometimes menacing waterfront. This is his satisfying meander through a unique time and place.

David Attie’s images provide a stunning and atmospheric parallel portrait of Brooklyn in 1959—its buildings, shops, lost moments—a city at once strangely familiar yet largely vanished. Horse-drawn wagons deliver produce to housewives, kids swim unsupervised in the East River and get into mischief on the docks, and life plays out on stoops and streets against a backdrop of period architecture, the spectacular bridge, and the skyline of Manhattan.

"The long-lost photos...bring even more life to Capote’s sparkling description of the history and spirit of the neighborhood, with its eccentric characters, back alleys and fine houses ('as elegant and other-era as formal calling cards').” —The New York Times, “Travel"

About the authors

Truman Capote (1924–1984), the novelist, journalist, and celebrated man-about-town, is best known as the author of Other Voices, Other Rooms, The Grass Harp, Breakfast at Tiffany's and In Cold Blood.

David Attie (1920–1982), a commercial and fine art photographer, began his photographic career as a student of influential Harper's Bazaar art director Alexey Brodovitch, who gave Attie his first professional assignment: to create a series of photo montages to illustrate Capote's “Breakfast at Tiffany's.” Attie’s work appeared in Vogue, Time, Newsweek, and Harper’s Bazaar, among other publications. He produced two books of photographs, Russian Self-Portraits, and (together with Chuck Close, Robert Mapplethorpe, and others) Portrait: Theory.

George Plimpton (1927–2003), the originator of "participatory journalism," was the editor of the Paris Review. His books include Paper Lion, Out of My League, The Bogey Man, Open Net, The Curious Case of Sidd Finch and The X Factor.

Eli Attie is a television writer and producer. He served as a special assistant to President Bill Clinton, and then as Vice President Al Gore's chief speechwriter. Attie was a longtime writer on the series The West Wing and House. He grew up in New York City, is a graduate of Hunter College High School and Harvard College, and lives in Los Angeles.


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