Monday, June 23, 2008

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Yesterday I went to my first public library event, which was a Banned Book Club meeting about In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. For weeks I'd been worried I'd be the only person to show up to this event, but I was pleasantly surprised that there were more than 20 people who attended, taking up all the chairs around the table. The discussion was lively and interesting and I really enjoyed it. One of the best things about deciding to take part in this group is it's forcing me to read books I would have never read otherwise (next month we're reading Lolita!).

In Cold Blood is a book I wouldn't normally have chosen because a) I'm afraid of everything and this for sure sounded like a scary topic and b) it's a true crime story, which makes it even more frightening in my mind. However, I'm glad I read it. I learned a lot about Truman Capote (sorry, wasn't one of the billions who went to see the movie about him a few years back), including that he was the first true crime author. As a journalist, I also really liked seeing how he was able to put all of his interviews together into a flowing story (and a super long one at that!).

In Cold Blood is about two criminals who think they've found a good gig when one of their inmates tells them about a farm job he used to have. The inmate tells them that the farmer spends $10,000 a week to run his business and the two assume the farmer, Mr. Clutter, keeps all that cash in a safe on his property. Once the two are released from jail, they drive 300 miles to the Clutter farm with the intentions of robbing the place and leaving no witnesses. When they get there they learn what anyone from the Clutter's town knows about the family: Mr. Clutter never has any cash on him. The locals joke that he'd write you a check for $1.50 because he never carries that much cash on him. Unfortunately, the lack of cash doesn't save the family and all 4 family members are shot in the head. It was a crime that rocked the nation in 1959 because it happened in such a small town, where people were presumably more safe than in big cities.

Capote interviews everyone in the town and the two killers after they've been caught and he paints a vivid picture of the town and these criminals. You almost begin to feel sorry for the two criminals who had such hard lives up to this point. But once they describe the murder to detectives (more than halfway through the book), you can't help but be horrified by them. Up until this point you only had a vague idea of what happened based on what police thought. Hearing it straight from the murderers was difficult because they didn't seem to understand that they'd done anything wrong. One of them, Perry Smith, even says, "I thought he was a very nice, gentle man. I thought so right up until I slit his throat."

I read this book at home alone at night and ended up not being able to sleep because it gave me the creepies. It was really well written and I recommend it, but if you're a scaredy cat like me, make sure someone is home with you so you can discuss it and get out all those worries.

This book was also reviewed by:
Nymeth at Things Mean a Lot
A bookworm's reviews
The Book Tiger

P.S. I'm still holding a giveaway for All About Lulu by Jonathan Evison. Leave a comment here before Wednesday!


Nymeth said...

I finished this one last week and I've just posted about it too! I thought it was very well written too, and like you I'm glad to have read it.

Becky said...

I just read I AM SCOUT by Charles Shields, and he spends some time talking about Truman Capote, Harper Lee, and this book, In Cold Blood. It was all very interesting.

Anyway, I wanted to remind you that Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon is this Saturday!

Andi said...

I loved In Cold Blood, even taught it once, which surprisingly worked well.

Came by you through Read-A-Thon stuff. Good luck with the reading and the long run - I trained for a marathon a couple of years back, and it was amazing. i ended up only running the half because of hip problems, but I'm sure you're rock your whole goal. Best wishes.

Becca said...

Becky: Thanks for the suggestion. I'll check it out.

Andi: Sorry to hear about the hip problems, but a half is great too! I'm training for the half right now, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to do the whole. It just depends on whether my knees hold up until December. I'd rather be able to run for the rest of my life than to finish one marathon (although doing BOTH would be even better!).

Care said...

HI! I'm cheering for the Read-A-Thon!

I think Capote is a terrific writer. THis was a chilling book and I rec the movie(s), both of the latest ones were well done.

Becca said...

Care: Oh! I love these cheerleader comments. They make my heart smile!

I heard the movies are really good and true to the book. I think I'll get one as soon as I sign up for Netflix (next month). Thanks for the suggestion.