Review: ‘In Cold Blood’

cold blood

 In Cold Blood

By Truman Capote

  • Date finished: March 24
  • Genre: True Crime; Non-Fiction Novel
  • Year: 1966
  • Project: Favorites Project
  • Reading List: Spring 2013
  • Grade: A+
  • Thoughts upon finishing:

Can I just say that any book I re-read as part of my Favorites Project is going to receive an A+? There’s a reason these books are my favorites.

I like In Cold Blood for a lot of reasons:

1) Truman Capote. When I first read Music for Chameleons (not Breakfast at Tiffany’s, mind you), I fell in love with his writing style, which is both powerful and slightly lyrical. I’m also fascinated by him, personally, and can watch ‘Capote’ over and over again. In fact, I’ll probably have to watch that soon.

2) As a lover of literature and a journalist, narrative nonfiction holds a special place in my heart. I love how journalists and other non-fiction writers can take something true — like a crime — and make it into something special that doesn’t necessarily read like non-fiction. In Cold Blood is fascinating because you can read these passages and hear both the journalist as well as the author:

The village of Holcomb stands on the high wheat plains of western Kansas, a lonesome area that other Kansans call “out there.”

“A lonesome area that other Kansans call ‘out there.'” What wonderful writing. In that first sentence, you immediatley known where this story is set while also connecting emotionally. What can I say — brilliant guy, that Capote. Anyway, the last time I read In Cold Blood was to study it during my senior capstone course on narrative non-fiction in college. Truth: I may have only picked that capstone because I knew In Cold Blood was on the reading list.

3) I’m not a fan of the “true crime” genre in general, and the crime stories found in the mystery genre don’t interest me much either. However I love this story because it seems to touch on everything that’s important in a crime story: compelling criminals, a grisly scene in the middle of a wind-swept prairie, small town shock and a hard-worn detective determined to know the truth. I also appreciate the “why” of In Cold Blood; why did Perry Smith and Dick Hickock kill the Clutter family? No particular reason other than human nature and what it’s capable of in its darkest moments. Isn’t that at the root of every crime?

4) As a fan of the film, ‘Capote’, I’ve always been fascinated by Capote’s own role in this story and how far he become involved. He only alludes to himself at the very end as a “journalist” confidante who speaks to the pair while on death row. But those who have seen ‘Capote’ know how far the author became obsessed with the case, particularly the murderers, leaving a whole story to be discovered between the lines.

I’m glad I picked this book to re-read as part of my Favorites Project. I had the idea when re-watching the movie sometime last year; that viewing also inspired me to re-read To Kill a Mockingbird, another solid choice. I’m not sure what I’ll read next as part of the project, but I do like doing this. Yes, there are other books I want/need to read. But sometimes, life is about returning to those you love, whether it’s places or people, and rediscovering why you fell head over heels in the first place.

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3 thoughts on “Review: ‘In Cold Blood’

  1. Pingback: Sunday Notes…on a Monday: March 24, 2013 | Paperback Fool

  2. Pingback: 2013: A Year in Reading | Paperback Fool

  3. Pingback: Sentences to knock your socks off | Paperback Fool

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