Wednesday, October 07, 2009


I've been aware of Truman Capote as a 'famous' person for a long time, and have seen the movie, 'Capote' that documented him writing the nonfiction novel In Cold Blood but until recently, I had never read anything of his.

As I always enjoy reading about murder and the like (I've stopped questioning why and just accept this fact about myself by now), it seemed sensible to start with In Cold Blood, so that's what I've done. I'm about half way through at the moment and just love his writing style – his voice is languorous, cultured, slightly drawling, which in itself I find highly enjoyable – but what is truly striking is his ability to set a scene and unfold his story with such a cool hand whilst, at the same time, being able to build such desire in the reader to turn the page.

The other striking thing about Capote’s approach to the story is how he chose to present the killers. He tells their background story in the same matter of fact way he tells that of their victims (the Clutter family) and, so far, I don’t particularly detect sympathy for either group of characters. It will be interesting to see if this develops later in the book.

Almost equally intriguing is why Capote chose to write this book in the first place – and dedicate so much time to it (4 years of research, apparently). This story was one of several he was considering ‘using’ to exercise this new genre he had created of nonfiction. Perhaps his almost detached cool style of writing gives us a clue that he wasn’t so much interested in the story itself, or the people involved, but perhaps more in his own literary experiment? He was a writer who lived in the spotlight too, so I can just imagine how he must have enjoyed the prospect of unveiling the double shock factor of multiple murder committed in apple pie heaven and his innovative presentation of it.

I’ll reserve final opinion until I’ve finished reading but, for now, my impressions are that Capote was a very media savvy guy with a big appetite for limelight – but boy, he could write.

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