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Michael DirdaIt's a wonderful volume on several counts. First, Portraits and Observations contains all of Capote's nonfiction (except In Cold Blood). Second, it's of a handy size, substantial and inviting without seeming magisterial and sepulchral. Third, nearly every page can be read with real pleasure, whether Capote is describing New Orleans or Brooklyn, whether he is profiling the fatuous Marlon Brando or his own high-spirited cleaning lady. Fourth, those who appreciate the music and cadence of a sentence, or relish a well-turned simile, will find much to enjoy and learn from in these crafty, intricately structured essays. Fifth, despite his real zest for high society, Capote is clearly a democratic bard, drawn as much to the glamour of a derelict washerwoman as to that of a Hollywood superstar. He is, in this regard, an heir to his fellow New Yorker writer, that chronicler of metropolitan life, Joseph Mitchell…No matter what his subject, Truman Capote's canny, careful art gives it warm and breathing life.
—The Washington Post