Merry Wanderer of the Night + TIME

In Cold Blood

Last year I had to read a section of In Cold Blood

for my nonfiction writing class and was astounded by how well Capote made this horrible nonfiction story sound like a novel. I wanted to read the book, but put it off until the College Students group on Goodreads read it for the month of August. The book is the true story of a murdered family, the Clutters, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas. Mr. Clutter, his invalid wife, teenage son, and teenage daughter were brutally murdered by two men who appeared to have no motivation for killing them. I knew a little bit about this story before going in, but the book reads almost like a mystery novel so I found myself wanting to find out what would happen next- something that doesn't often happen for me in nonfiction books.

Capote is a great writer. He manages to make you feel just the slightest twinge of sympathy for the murderers, and he goes to great lengths to explain why something like this might happen. I don't think anyone can ever explain it, but the psychological reasons were really interesting to me and scarier than the actual murders. Basically, you can be crazy and not even know it, and to me that is really terrifying. The trial moved rather quickly, which is something I always like in a book because sometimes I think trials go on forever and you really aren't learning that much about what is happening.

I did have just one teeny, tiny problem with this book that totally wouldn't have bothered me if it wasn't for To Kill a Mockingbird's 50th Anniversary in July. When I read Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee I learned how much she contributed to this book and all Truman Capote gave her was a lousy dedication. No one in Holcomb liked Truman Capote, but they did like Harper Lee and so they gave her a great deal of the information. Basically, without Harper Lee this book probably wouldn't exist. And I know I shouldn't let that dictate how I feel about this book and I do think this book a great read, truly reads like a mystery novel and is the perfect blend of fact and storytelling, but it still just bothered me. I'm sure things like that happen all the time, authors not giving credit, but the fact that I knew made this experience different for me.

I give In Cold Blood a B.

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In Cold Blood + TIME