Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Grass Harp: Writing That Takes Your Breath Away

Some writing just takes your breath away. My writing friend and critique partner recently recommended THE GRASS HARP, by Truman Capote. It is a novella, a form that seems these days to elicit both love and disgust. It is beautiful. Breathtaking. And I'm only on Chapter One. Here's an example:

We reached a field of Indian grass at the same moment as the sun. Dolly's veil flared in the morning breeze, and a pair of pheasants, nesting in our path, swept before us, their metal wings swiping the cockscomb-scarlet grass. The China tree was a September bowl of green and greenish gold: Gonna fall, gonna bust our heads, Catherine said, as all around us the leaves shook down their dew.
Such a short passage, with so much going on! You have to stop and take it in. You have to slow down, to notice. The words make the world magical, without ever introducing any magic. It takes your breath away.


  1. That does strike me as well.

    I have encountered many pieces which took my breath away and I can't think of most. I started a page a while back so that whenever I remember one, I would put it there. I only have two so far, but you're welcome to see which ones they are. My favorites!

  2. Cindy, thanks for sharing about this novella by Capote. I was forced to read his "In True Blood" for a college journalism class, and it turned me off of Capote. As an impressionable college kid, his realistic writing left nothing to the imagination, and I couldn't banish the creepy images from my mind. Now, decades later, I can appreciate his writing ability.


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