Reev Robledo's Reviews > In Cold Blood

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
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Sep 21, 12

Read from September 01 to 20, 2012

Capote paints perfect pictures of every character. You can almost feel them breathing right beside you. Their thoughts, their mannerisms, their physique, their psyche, etc. Bravo.

He painstakingly describes every detail—with thousands of commas and dashes preceding thousands of commas and dashes—his keen sense of observation (and exaggeration) is both impressive and tiring at the same time. I felt that Truman probably held the details of every interview close to his heart hence a lot of unnecessary banter between town-folk, relatives and even very minor characters were not omitted. The conversations were crucial, but somewhat too plenty.

I couldn't help but think of one of Disney's famous editing principles while reading this book: If it's not important in the telling of the story, cut it out. Of course, this is way beyond the family-oriented themes good ol' Walt implemented. It's gruesome, shocking and certainly deserves the accolade of the "true-crime" genre.

I love how Capote matter-of-factly drops sentences that depict the horror of the crime done after a rather mundane recollection of events. "I slit his throat." is one. Narratives of Nancy, Sue, Al Dewey stood out, perhaps because they had a natural flow to the story-telling and did not sound like a police report. Mrs. Kidwell's dream, though briefly described and wildly unbelievable, was haunting.

Now let me tell you why I am not impressed. My biggest question is: Would I have enjoyed this book if I didn't know that it was real? Will it stand up on its own minus the decades of controversy around it?

The answer lies in the text itself. The book is obviously a novelized transcript of interviews: if it isn't, then it certainly felt like it was. Truman Capote "filled in the blanks" with suppositions, questionable truths, and fictional drama—that wouldn't be an issue had he not boldly claimed his work to be "non-fiction".

It is my belief that Truman wanted to shock the mainstream with his empathic crusade for the murderers. Without question, he had an affinity for Perry and Judge Tate, and a clear distaste for Dick. Perhaps during the interviews, Hickok was appalled by Truman's nosy intrusions and homosexuality—that's just a guess—while Smith was more accommodating.

I am not sure if I am simply desensitized by the countless crime books, tv shows and movies I've seen. But I did not feel an ounce of pity towards the criminals. Things would have probably been different if I had read this in the 60s or 70s when coverage of crimes like these were bold and anti-Hollywood, therefore "cool".

Forgive my natural tendency to reject what's popular...for what most claim to be "a really great novel". I just had too many "Oh c'mon, how could you (Capote) have been there to know that?" moments to merit praise. Based on further research, many of the characters deny that many events in the book (Mrs. Meir having a picnic with Perry in jail for one) really happened.

Had this been categorized as a tale based on true events, then I would have given it double the stars. If you say this story is true, then I'll be doggoned if pertinent details were fabricated just to express that "creative license". It doesn't only not help in the telling of the story, it just makes the story something else entirely—a fictional one.
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Reading Progress

09/01/2012 page 0
0.0%
09/10/2012 page 100
27.0% "Way behind. Past the initial drag I hope. Here come the bloody details. Terrific..."
09/12/2012 page 147
42.0% "Truman's research sounds non-fictional and fictional at the same time."
09/13/2012 page 159
46.0% "Have theories. Maybe they're correct."
09/14/2012 page 192
55.0% "Feels like watching an episode of The Mentalist...or any cop-investigator show. I'm guessing storylines like this were a very big thing (due to its unusualness) back then."
09/16/2012 page 251
73.0% "The book description says "mesmerizing suspense" and "astonishing empathy". Will it hit me in the last hundred pages? :)"
09/17/2012 page 262
76.0% "Wondering if the book would have garnered this much attention if it wasn't a real story."
09/20/2012 page 333
97.0% "Since when was the word "prevaricate" part of a common criminal's vocabulary? And Dick hates Perry for using hundred-dollar words? Truman Capote, you're faking it."
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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Monique The book is obviously a novelized transcript of interviews: if they weren't, then it certainly felt like it was.

This sentence. :)

I love this review. :)


Reev Robledo Monique wrote: "The book is obviously a novelized transcript of interviews: if they weren't, then it certainly felt like it was.

This sentence. :)

I love this review. :)"


Thanks! Although, wrong grammar pala yung sentence ko. :-D


Matthew Little I particularly enjoyed the artistic liberty Truman took while writing the book. True or not, he certainly had a way with the words and phrases he used, some overtly repeated, sure, but in a historical sense it's wonderful! As I said in my own review, it's like reading 50 year old dirty laundry, it's a perfect little peephole looking back at a time when everyone talked differently, had different and squeaky morals, only to be rocked by an unprovoked crime.

A good lot of it is real, but it's been discovered that a majority of the interviews were either adlibed or misquoted, and the ending was pure fiction. But there's still beauty in the words, the scenes, in my opinion.


Reev Robledo Matthew wrote: "I particularly enjoyed the artistic liberty Truman took while writing the book. True or not, he certainly had a way with the words and phrases he used, some overtly repeated, sure, but in a histori..."

Cheers!


Gabriela Raczyńska I loved this review. This exactly how I felt when I read this book. I'm glad I'm not the only one who felt this way, since I'm supposed to be dazzled by this piece.


Mariajosefernandez Did you know that it was rumored that Perry and Capote had an affair? :P crazy stuff


Reev Robledo Gabriela, I saw your comment just now! Yes, thank you. Hardly dazzling. :)

Maria, I am not surprised. Haha.


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