Tuesday 8 June 2010
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Pages - 336
Challenges - Non Fiction Five and Support Your Library Challenge.
Republished by Penguin in 2000
The village of Holcomb stands on the high wheat plains of western Kansas, a lonesome area that other Kansans call 'out there'. Some seventy miles east of the Colorado border, the countryside, with hard blue skies and desert clear air, has an atmosphere that is rather more Far West than Middle West. The local accent is barbed with prairie twang, a ranch-hand nasalness, and the men, many of them, wear narrow frontier trousers, Stetsons, and high heeled boots with pointed toes. The land is flat , and the the views are awesomely extensive; horses, herds of cattle, a white cluster of grain elevators rising as gracefully as Greek temples are visible long before a traveller reaches them.
For some reason, I have been fascinated by this book since I first heard about it. I don't know why, especially as I avoid all books with fictional murders in, let alone real ones. I think it was because Truman Capote wrote it, that I became so attracted to it.
In this book, Capote reconstructs the cold bloodied murders of a Kansas farmer and his family in 1959. Capote carried out an extensive study of the deaths within this family, as well as studying the two killers Perry Smith and Dick Hickock in detail.
Within this book, Capote breathes life into this violent event. Right from the beginning, I felt very strongly towards the farmer and his family. I was prepared to stop reading the book, as I had to grown fond of them, and really didn't want to find out how they were murdered.
The family were murdered purely because of hearsay. A conversation with another criminal had Hickock believing that the family had a safe in the house with a lot of money in. It turns out, there was no money, but that didn't stop the men killing the family one by one.
I can't say I enjoyed this book as the subject matter really was quite upsetting and I found myself feeling rather depressed, especially as the killers had no real motive for murdering the whole family. However, the writing is detailed and full of empathy towards the family and I felt that Capote handled such a sensitive event very well. You almost feel that Truman Capote is actually witnessing all the events that happened. He includes conversations and detailed accounts, allowing you to believe that he witnessed every part of the event. It is almost hard to believe that the book is actually a non fiction one, as the events read like fiction.
I felt that Capote portrayed the killers in an unbiased way. He tried to show that they did have feelings and were caring in some ways; he didn't write them off completely. However, I imagine that writing about people this way, is easier if you have no connection to the people who were brutally murdered. The book was released six years after the murders and I doubt that people close to the family were able to read this book without feeling anger and hatred for these two men.
There were parts within the book, that I felt may have been page fillers. I didn't feel that every person associated with the family and the killers needed to have a complete biography included about them. I found myself skipping over pages about people who had no real involvement at all,except that they were distantly related.
This book is really one of those books you should read, rather than may want to read.
Now I know other people have read this book, but my Google reader doesn't want to play nicely and I couldn't find any links to other reviews. So if you have reviewed this book, then please add a link in the comments and I will add your review on the end.
Other reviews of this book
Things Mean A Lot