That is the grate in my bathroom. Yes, Hercule follows me everywhere and sometimes he refuses to leave. The grate is old and rusty and needs to be removed, but where would my little green T-Rex perch?
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
In 1957, in Holcomb, Kansas, a rancher, Mr. Clutter, his wife, and teenage daughter and son were found by friends in the home hog tied and dead. Each had been shot in the head. Nothing was stolen. Months went by before anyone had an inkling who could have done such a horrible thing and why.
In Cold Blood is Truman Capote's documentary account of this tragedy, from before the Clutters were murdered to when the perpetrators were finally apprehended and brought to justice. This book was a watershed in that it launched the "New Journalism". Non-fiction written as a novel, rather than dry reporting.
I started this book expecting not to like it. I felt that Capote was exploiting a callous crime for the sake of thrusting himself in the lime light through sensationalism, and, indeed, this book did launch his career, even though he had already published many works, in fact most of his best work, prior to this book, which was published serially in The New Yorker in 1965. But In Cold Blood is what made Capote a celebrity.
The book did start slowly, and at first I thought the writing was a bit juvenile. However, the story picked up speed and soon I was completely involved in the lives of the poor family whose lives were cut short, the townsfolk who reeled in the aftermath and finally, the murderers.
The murderers get the most attention, no doubt because the victims were dead and could not be interviewed, so the least is said about them. Truman Capote and Harper Lee spent an extensive amount of time interviewing the criminals, Perry Smith and Richard Hickock, who were in prison by this time and also the detectives and policemen who helped bring them to justice.
In the end I must say this book was written forcefully yet objectively and with an adept understanding of human nature.
Capote does not sugarcoat the two young men or their murder, but he makes them real live human beings. He effectively describes their psychology, allowing the reader to understand how two young men could kill a whole family in cold blood.
It is the first novel in a long time where I keep expecting to pick the book back up and have to remind myself that I finished it. It seems the people, even though they are all (or most of them) gone, they somehow have become a part of my life.
That says something about the power of Truman Capote's writing.
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