What If Truman Capote Had Gotten Amtrak Writer’s Residency

“I still like a train best for [writing]. I wish Amtrak had residencies for writers,” Alexander Chee told PEN America. After the sound bite made the rounds on Twitter, Amtrak’s social media team started offering writers just that: a residency on wheels.
Chee tapped into a timeless motif. Over 60 years ago, Truman Capote documented his train ride from Granada to the Spanish seaport of Algeciras for The New Yorker.

“Lots of writers notice how the world looks. Capote notices how it moves. He’s especially attuned to the movements of people,” the magazine wrote when it resurfaced the archival story.

In his first story for The New Yorker, “A Ride Through Spain,” Truman wrote:

[blockquote source=””]The young soldier was one of many on the train. With their tasselled caps set at snappy angles, they hung about in the corridors smoking sweet, black cigarettes and laughing confidentially. They seemed to be having a good time, and apparently this was wrong of them, for when an officer appeared, they would stare fixedly out the windows, as though enraptured by the landslides of red rock, the olive fields, and the stern mountains. Their officers were dressed for a parade—many ribbons, much brass, and some wore gleaming, improbable swords strapped to their belts. [/blockquote]

Looking forward to reading more train-bound stories produced thanks to Amtrak’s generous residency.

Oscar Raymundo
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