Issued three years after Capote’s death, “Answered Prayers” was composed of three excerpts that had been separately published in Esquire in 1975 and 1976. Full of the thinly veiled (and unveiled) rich and famous, including Peggy Guggenheim, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Gloria Vanderbilt, the book lost Capote many friends. Before his death at 59 in 1984, he spoke of several other fragments that have never been found or published.
When the book was published in 1987, Tina Brown (then the editor of Vanity Fair) wrote in The Times: “The trouble with ‘Answered Prayers’ is that Capote at this stage was not amenable to the demands of nonfiction. He was out of control in his life and in his art. The nonfiction constraints of libel, taste and feeling were just what he needed at a time when his internal editor seems to have collapsed. Such constraints might have forced him to report with the fine calibrations of ‘The Muses Are Heard’ and ‘In Cold Blood’ instead of indulging himself in the worst solution of all, a rubbishy roman à clef.”