Publicly, Capote maintained art as his defence, often asking “What did they expect? I’m a writer, and I use everything. Did all those people think I was there just to entertain them?” (It should be noted that only one of the Swans, CZ Guest, thought of this beforehand, advising her friends to tell their darkest secrets to their psychologist, rather than the writer).
But behind that facade, Capote was crumbling. Babe Paley, his best friend, never spoke to him again. When she died three years later, from lung cancer, Capote wasn’t invited to the funeral. The rest of the circle cut him out. “He was devastated” Greenberg-Jephcott says. Reports from the time say he spent his days indoors in his Manhattan penthouse, curtains shut to the world, sobbing on his bed and repeating the words, “I didn’t mean to, I thought they’d come back.”
Cut off from the ladies who lunched, Capote turned instead to the nocturnal largesse of Studio 54, sidling into disco, Andy Warhol’s factory and copious amounts of cocaine, pills and alcohol. CZ Guest was among the scant few socialites who cared enough to escort him to rehab, but Capote continued to drink. One more chapter of Answered Prayers, 'Unspoiled Monsters', was published in Esquire, in May 1976. But soon Capote was the subject of headlines, rather than writing them himself: an embittered libel lawsuit with Gore Vidal and inebriated talk show appearances pockmarked his final years.
After Capote’s death, it didn’t take long for the hunt for the missing manuscript to begin. An incomplete version of it, Answered Prayers: The Unfinished Novel, was published in 1986, comprising the three chapters that had been published during Capote’s life. But history attests there was more: Joanne Carson, who was with Capote when he died, said she’d read the three remaining chapters in the early Eighties. What’s more, Capote had given her a key to an undisclosed safe deposit box on the morning before his death, saying, the chapters “will be found when they want to be found”.