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'Forgotten' Capote Novella

December 21, 1986|ELIZABETH MEHREN

NEW YORK — When last we talked to Marie Rudisill, Truman Capote's aunt, she was bound and determined to publish the 8,500-word novella that she had found in a paper bag just days after he died in August, 1984. "Cousin Bud," as the work was titled then, had been stashed away in the attic of Rudisill's 200-year-old house in Beaufort, S.C. Capote, then 22, had given the story to his aunt shortly after he wrote it in the summer of 1946, but until Rudisill went upstairs to search out some Capote family facts for the mortuary in Los Angeles, she had forgotten all about it. Now, more than two years later, and retitled "I Remember My Grandpa," the work is out in the December issue of Redbook--but not without some doing on Rudisill's part. Capote's 76-year-old aunt reports a major runaround on the part of four lawyers and most of the U.S. Copyright Office. Informed initially that "it would be impossible to get a copyright for a dead person," Rudisill persisted. "I said I know it is not impossible because I am determined to do it," she declared. Her next appeal was rejected, however, because she failed to include all the documents in one envelope. Finally, she remembered, "I said to myself, 'Dammit, I am going to get to the root of this. This is mine. Truman gave it to me. It's a beautiful, lovely story, and it was written completely from the heart.' " So she fired off a letter to the copyright office. "I said we were sitting at the kitchen table, and Truman came in with some papers in his hand. He handed them to me, and said, 'Here, I want you to have this, it's a story I've written for you especially about Bud.' I said, 'Truman, what do you want me to do with it?' And he said, 'Anything in the wild world.' And as he walked out of the room, he said, 'Who knows, someday I might be famous.' " The Capote story carries a copyright in Rudisill's name, a fact U.S. senior copyright information specialist Richard Anderson said was in no way unusual. "We get copyright claims for works that have been authored by people who have been dead, sometimes, hundreds of years," Anderson said from his office in Washington. Rudisill, for her part, got $20,000 from Redbook to publish the story, and is overjoyed to see it printed in a magazine that will "take this pure sweet story into the American home." Said Rudisill: "I'm 76 years old and I'm as bull-headed as they come, but he gave it to me to do with it as I wanted to do, and that's what I wanted to do. I want the world to see it."

FOR THE RECORD - 920730
Los Angeles Times Sunday January 4, 1987 Home Edition Book Review Page 9 Book Review Desk 1 inches; 12 words Type of Material: Correction
WE STAND CORRECTED: Little Golden Books' billion-copy puppy is Poky, not Porky.

AWARDS TO PRISONERS: Ten inmates in prisons around the country have been selected from among more than 400 entrants as winners of the 1986 PEN Writing Awards for Publishers. Sponsored by the PEN American Center, the Writing Awards were begun in 1973 to encourage writing and education among the incarcerated. Prize money this year totals $575. The winners are: for poetry, R. Geren Edwards, "Nascence," Jefferson City, Mo.; Charles Culhane, Ossining, N.Y.; Howard Ferrenberg, Pittsburgh, Pa.; for fiction, Kent Monroe Jr., Lawrenceville, Ga.; David L. Thomas, Huntsville, Tex.; Roger Buehl, Huntingdon, Pa.; for nonfiction, William R. Bates, Burgin, Ky.; John Zeh; William Hester, Tucson, Ariz.; Billy Sinclair, Angola, La.

PYM'S CUP: The fascination with Barbara Pym continues with the publication in December by the University of Iowa Press of Dale Salwak's "The Life and Work of Barbara Pym." This collection of 19 essays on the novelist who died in 1981, four years after both Philip Larkin and Lord David Cecil described her as one of the century's most underrated writers, brings together works by (among others) Hazel Holt, Pym's colleague and literary executor; Joyce Carol Oates, Gail Godwin and Shirley Hazzard. Salwak is a member of the Department of English at Glendora's Citrus College.

PRIZE COLLECTION: Twenty-one letters written by Ernest Hemingway to his friend Eric Edward Dorman-Smith between 1950 and 1955 have been acquired by Stanford University. A gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Field of San Francisco, the correspondence will join the university's Charles D. Field Collection of Ernest Hemingway, featuring first editions, galley proofs, scripts, articles, poems, letters and photographs. The newest letters are significant, Stanford curator of special collections Michael Ryan said, in that they reveal Hemingway's frame of mind at the time he won the Nobel Prize, in 1954, and "after the disillusionments of the war." Of the Nobel Prize, Hemingway wrote to the friend he met in Milan during World War I, "This Swedish business is not very impressive when you think of all the good writers they have not given it to that are dead." Hemingway and Dorman-Smith remained friends throughout the writer's lifetime.

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