Stringy's Reviews > In Cold Blood

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
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May 16, 12

Read in May, 2012

A perfect little gem of a non-fiction crime story. I chose it because I enjoy the true crime genre, and In Cold Blood is where it all started.

I loved the clipped, concise style - I was able to just sink into the story without quibbling over phrasing or skimming pages of unnecessary detail/padding. The structure (which alternates between the victims and the criminals, then between law enforcement and the criminals) made it a real page-turner. Although it would have been hugely sensational at the time, I found it restrained by today's standards of tell-all, show-all gore and violence. Capote leaves a lot to the imagination, which suits me fine.

There are many critiques of Capote's choices for the book. After looking into them a little, I can't say that I agree with many. I didn't feel that he was condescending to the little town, just an outsider looking in. Residents and family would quite naturally prefer the focus to be on the family, not the killers - but drama doesn't come from happy, productive people, and drama is something I can't do without in a book. I haven't seen evidence of any distortion I couldn't classify as poetic licence, although there may be something out there I haven't heard about yet.

Apart from being a good yarn, Capote's book made me retroactively upgrade some (not all) of the dodgier true crime I've read. I've got a context now for what those authors were trying to live up to, and I respect their good taste and desire to aim high. At least they're having a go at creative non-fiction instead of just re-hashing old news reports, as happens too often in the genre.
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