Book # 7 In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

I did it. I finished reading In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. It was no easy thing to finish this one. On so many levels. First of all, it was a long book, and it seems that I have had less time to read lately. Secondly, the writing was so haunting and realistic that I was SKEERED.

There is a lot to say about this book, and about the story surrounding it, and about why I wanted to read it. It goes without my saying that Truman Capote is one of the great American writers of the 20th century. I have long been fascinated by his close friendship with Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird. Indeed, the two were reported to be lifelong friends, and she admittedly based the character of Dill on Capote’s life. She was known to have had a significant influence on the writing of this book, reportedly accompanying him to Kansas for the research, and even helping him to conduct the interviews with the accused murderers.
I have read about Capote’s life. Though he spent his summers in a small Alabama town, and I am an Alabama native, the other aspects of his life are almost polar opposite from mine. He lived a raucous, fast-paced, celebrity-filled life, and that dichotomy from my own life was something that I wanted to understand.
The writing style of the book was interesting to me because it was of such interest to him. When the book was written in 1966, the concept of the non-fiction novel was relatively new, and Capote was interested in trying this writing style on his next project. When he came across the story of the Clutter family in a newspaper, the idea of the book was born.
The book is the horrific story of the murders of four members of the Clutter family. A prominent Kansas farming and land-owning family, the Clutters were savagely killed by Dick Hickock and Perry Smith, two convicts previously unknown to the family. The book chronicles the Clutter family’s life just before the murders, the actual murders, the investigation, arrest of the killers, and their time in prison including their eventual execution by hanging.
Needless to say, In Cold Blood is a much heavier book than I would typically choose to read. Truman Capote is such a masterful writer that I was creeped out most of the time I spent reading. But I so wanted to see what Truman Capote was all about. I’m glad I read it.

That being said, I came across this interview on youtube that Capote gave about how the book came to be. I was totally flabbergasted by his ability to separate himself from the Clutter family and their horrific deaths. Was he human? Did he have no compassion at all?


  1. The Youngbloods says

    Now you need to watch the movie Capote
    To Kill a Mockingbird is also one of my favorites too. My Aunt lives in Monroeville so I've seen Harper Lee a few times. One time she sat behind us at church – not sure what that sermon was about, I was busy planning what I was going to say to her!!!

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