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10.26.2011

Recalling My Reading Experience of Truman Capote's 'In Cold Blood'


If there's a book that you'd like to spend reading on a long weekend, Truman Capote's 'In Cold Blood' should be among your choices. Its cool matter-of-fact narrative will make you think about those daily dose of crime shows you have on TV & on paper these days. It's got understated reporting of details ('controlled sensationalism', if you may allow it) by including views from the murderers themselves,  thus making you think if they've done something morally right in the process in the court of public opinion. And I'm thinking it's Capote's book that strongly inspired today's writers to tell their crime stories as if they happen every minute of the time, and we all just move on with our lives, despite the horrifying experiences we gain, sooner or later.

In Cold BloodIn Cold Blood by Truman Capote
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this book many years ago while still in high school (I got curious about the title, i.e., why the 'cold blood' description, which to my mind brought nasty thoughts about warm, icky blood droplets). And this book created an early memorable impact to my efforts to get into writing works and in choosing my reading preferences, and would make me wonder how I could write in a style similar to Capote's (his name, incidentally, means 'raincoat' --if I recall my Spanish now). I would even go researching about and reading on Capote's other works. All these years, I've yet to watch its movie version (I heard about it from other reviewers here).

What continues to catch my interest even after so many years had passed since I read this has been about its being considered a non-fiction work. With this book, there seems to be a thin line that separates fiction from what's considered non-fiction, which got into my thoughts when I read this book with relish. The quality of writing Capote has shown in this book is uniquely his own from start to finish, although it almost reads like a very well-written extended police report (i.e., minutely factual, almost-cold blooded in tone, and as if written by someone who's very literate, well read and very comfortable in dealing with the details of a bloody crime). And the creative process he followed in coming up with this work becomes more intriguing because Capote wrote, too, in other genres using distinctive styles (read his "Music For Chameleons; Other Voices, Other Rooms") you seldom experience in reading other well-known writers.

I had even doubts if Capote added elements that he thought would make the book more elaborately understated in narrating what's usually and expected to be violent and over-the-edge when written works like this are made into movies. Murder is murder from any angle you view it, directly or indirectly, which give your thoughts about violence, dying and blood. Capote must have done (and had fun doing) so many interviews until he was satisfied that he had enough materials with him to write a book. The narration of the murders was not as violent as your initial thoughts were, which was the case with me.

Capote did so well in researching for what details should be included in this book. And with this book, I felt like I was watching any of those mind-boggling crime shows typically found on cable TV nowadays. It's not the strength of the underlying story itself that got me into finishing this book -- it's the elegant, direct but unpretentious (i.e. 'look at me, I'm writing good!') style Capote used to narrate his take on those murders that took place many years ago somewhere in MidWest USA.



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