Darwin8u's Reviews > In Cold Blood

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
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it was amazing
bookshelves: 1001-ante-mortem, 2017

"I thought he was a very nice gentleman. Soft-spoken. I thought so right up to the moment I cut his throat."
- Truman Capote, In Cold Blood

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I'm not sure why I waited so long to sit down and read this novel. I've read and enjoyed Other Voices, Other Rooms and Breakfast at Tiffany's. Perhaps, it is just that the novel wasn't very, well, novel. Without having read it I felt I already knew it. I was surrounded by New Nonfiction inspired by Truman Capote's 1966 book (originally published serially in the New Yorker). Everyone now seemed to write long-journalism pieces like Capote. His influence on journalism and especially on New Journalism was huge. But my kids were reading Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird and, perhaps, triggered by some vague, dusty memory that Harper Lee and Truman Capote were cousins and that she helped Capote out with the research and interviews for 'In Cold Blood' I decided it was the right time to read one of my copies (I own a first edition* and a Modern Library copy).

I wasn't born, but apparently when this came out in the New Yorker back in the mid-1960s it was a sensation. I'm trying to think of a series of articles recently that could compare. Probably the closest thing might be the PODCAST "Serial" or the TV show "Making a Murderer", but I still sense that it was bigger. It was one of those works that both made the author and kind of destroyed him too.

Anyway, it was brutal. Brutal because of its very humanity. Dick and Perry aren't painted as horrible (or even scary) killers. Like Arendt, Capote's trick (perhaps not trick) is to show us how banal, how casual evil is. It was like staring wickedness in the face and recognizing just a bit of oneself (but the boring, cereal eating side). It reminded me of a German Shepherd my dad (a veterinarian) rescued once when I was a kid. He was viscous. I spent hours trying to "tame" him. Over months I was able to (I thought) reduce the anger, the fear, the viciousness in this dog. But occasionally I would see it. He (the dog) hated old people. An old man or woman would walk by our fence and "Bozo" would go mad. We finally found an adopted home for him. Months later, we heard he had jumped an 8 foot fence and attacked an old man and had to be put down. I remember thinking how sad it was. I loved that dog, but at the same time, I recognized that there was something IN that dog that was dangerous and would never change. Anyway, that was kind of how I felt reading about Perry. Here is a man who had, at one level, a certain gentle quality, but without regret, without much pushing, could also quickly kill another human being. I think that duality. That humanity touched by that evil is what haunts that book and makes it relevant now and into the future.

* These aren't very rare because the first edition of 'In Cold Blood' was printed like it was the Bible in 1966 because of the interest shown by the original New Yorker articles.
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Reading Progress

June 29, 2011 – Shelved
August 29, 2013 – Shelved as: 1001-ante-mortem
February 6, 2017 – Started Reading
February 7, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
February 7, 2017 –
page 190
43.98%
February 7, 2017 – Shelved as: 2017
February 7, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-6 of 6 (6 new)

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

A long time ago I recall reading how it was THIS very book where Capote was never the same...it left him scarred for life.


Darwin8u T. wrote: "A long time ago I recall reading how it was THIS very book where Capote was never the same...it left him scarred for life."

It did seem to peak his career.


Jeffrey Keeten I felt the same way when I finished reading it...why did I wait so long to read this? Growing up in Kansas I even have less of an excuse than you do. I'm so glad you enjoyed the book!


Darwin8u Jeffrey wrote: "I felt the same way when I finished reading it...why did I wait so long to read this? Growing up in Kansas I even have less of an excuse than you do. I'm so glad you enjoyed the book!"

Thanks. I really do wonder if it all came about because my kids were reading 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. There is a part of my brain where all that mostly useless info gets stored and my decision making process for what to read next isn't very rational.


message 5: by Tina (new) - added it

Tina I too grew up in Kansas! Why haven't I read this book?!! It's on my to do list now


Suzy Hi D8 - I just finished this one and am reading reviews. Your vicious dog analogy is so apt and gave me the shivers. I also loved the book - it was GR group pick and hands down the liveliest discussion of any group read I've been part of!


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