Saturday, July 16, 2011

"In Cold Blood" by Truman Capote

Published: 1965
Read: 2011
Genre: Non-fiction novel or true crime novel
Rating: 5
List: 1,001
Review: Goodreads, A Guy's Moleskin Notebook

With this brilliantly written novel, Capote created a new genre: the non-fiction novel and/or the true crime novel.  It was initially published in four installments in the New Yorker and then in novel form in 1965.  Rather than writing a book full of facts about a horrific crime in a sleepy Midwestern town, Capote used these facts to create a spell-binding story.  Once started, I had a hard time putting the book down.  

The book is divided into four parts called I) The Last to See them Alive, II) Persons Unknown, III)  Answer and IV)  The Corner.  Within the parts are sections separated by white space, no chapters.

Capote and Harper Lee (author of To Kill A Mockingbird) went to Holcomb, KS, scene of the gruesome murders to conduct interviews.  He followed the story through the trial/sentencing and was able to interview the murderers while incarcerated.   There are two movies that depict this time in Capote's life, Capote and Infamous.  Both are in my Netflix queue.

Quotes to remember and why:

Rather than just listing items that accompany a guitar and 12-guage shotgun in the back seat of the car, Capote adds a literary flair:
A flashlight, a fishing knife, a pair of leather gloves, and a hunting vest fully packed with shells contributed further atmosphere to this curious still life.
If Dick's face truly looked like this, what a piece of descriptive writing:
...his face, which seemed composed of mismatching parts.  It was as though his head had been halved like an apple, then put together a fraction off center.
Even a cat is worthy of a well-constructed sentence:
Pete, a tiger-shaped tom weighing fifteen pounds, is a well-known character around Garden City, famous for his pugnacity, which was the cause of his current hospitalization; a battle lost to a boxer dog had left him with wounds necessitating both stitches and antibiotics.

This reminds me of Josh's glasses that are still in his room....
Upstairs in Kenyon;s room, on a shelf above his bed, the lenses of the dead boy's spectacles gleamed with reflected light.

When locals were getting on Dewey for not solving the crime at Hartman's cafe, Mrs. Hartman rebukes them with these three simple words which says it all.
Hush your meanness.
Dewey had worked on four simple murder cases before this one. I like how clear and concise this sentence is:
Prior to the Clutter mystery, the four cases cited were the sum of Dewey's experience with murder, and measured against the case confronting him, were squalls preceding a hurricane.
How Perry looked at the trial in a borrowed shirt and jeans cuffed at the bottom:
..he looked as lonely and inappropriate as a seagull in a wheat field.
Death, grief and suicide are prominent themes so I wrote a post on Josh's blog.

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