Sunday, February 29, 2004
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
How little I knew about Truman Capote! Turns out that in addition to being the man who wrote Breakfast at Tiffany's, Capote also threw one the NTY's "Best 50 Parties of All Time" and was Harper Lee's childhood friend. Not only that, but the character Dill Harris in her book To Kill A Mockingbird IS Capote as a youth. Whoda thunkit?
In Cold Blood is one of the first "true crime" novels. It started the genre that later brought us things like 'Helter Skelter' and now has whole sections devoted to grisly wallowing in the deeds of Jon Benet Ramsey & Jeffrey Dahlmer. First, just the facts: In the 1950's Holcomb, Kansas was shocked by the apparently motiveless murder of a family of four. Capote's book explores in fascinating detail the events leading up to the murder and the subsequent search for, and trial and execution of those responsible.
Capote's style is solid, every page filled with direct quotes from the 'characters' in the story. The format is remniscent of a dective novel, or a thriller, made all the more engaging because every detail is 'true'. In In Cold Blood, Capote blurs the line between fiction and factual reporting, but does so in a way that strengthens both.