Feature Contributors

Column: Just like Truman Capote

Dear readers,

A special thanks goes out this week to my childhood friend Rock Robertson. Many of you probably know Rock from his years spent delivering mail here in Shelbyville.

Rock told me about a computer program that analyzes writing. You just submit a sample of your writing and the computer compares your word choice and writing style to other writers. In just a few minutes, the computer reveals the name of a writer who most shares your style. 

I have been writing for over 30 years, so it took me a couple of hours to pick out what I thought were some of my best columns. I scanned them into the computer. The little circle in the center of the screen began to spin. What writer is most like me, I wondered. 

Could it be Vonnegut, Hemingway, or Faulkner? Maybe Charles Major, after all we are both lawyers from Shelbyville. Then again, it wouldn’t have to be a man. Maybe my writing is more like Harper Lee or Louisa Mae Alcott. The anticipation was killing me. 

Would it be F. Scott Fitzgerald? I always thought the last sentence in “The Great Gatsby” was memorable: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” 

Nah, I couldn’t have written that in a million years. 



Gazing at the little spinning circle on my computer screen, I began to daydream just like Walter Mitty. I was suddenly a young boy in Monroeville, Alabama. I lived with my spinster aunts. I was helping Aunt Sook stir the batter to make a fruitcake. I was Truman Capote, but it wasn’t his Aunt Sook. It was my spinster Aunt Shelm.

I realized that the writer I am most like must be Truman Capote. He is the famous author of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

Wow, just daydreaming about being compared to such a great writer has made my noggin grow two hat sizes.

I must write like Capote because we have so much in common. He spent a lot of time living with his spinster aunts. My mother was the youngest in her family. Her parents were already deceased when I was born. My mother’s older sisters were spinsters and still lived in the family homestead. I spent a lot of time at their house. It was the 1960s, but they were still living in the 19th century. Staying with them always had kind of a southern gothic vibe. I should probably write a novel about my aunts.

The similarities between Truman Capote and myself don’t end with us both spending time with spinster aunts. As Ron Popeil would always say, “but wait, there’s more!”

Capote liked clementines and I like clementines.

Capote liked fruitcake and I like fruitcake.

Capote liked to fly kites and I like to fly kites.

Capote liked … Look the computer has finally given me the answer.  The wait is over!

The writer with my sense of style, word selection and grammar usage is a fourth grader in Iowa by the name of Noah Smith.

Oh well, at least I won’t have to buy a new hat.

See you all next week, same Schwinn time, same Schwinn channel.

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