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In Cold Blood
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Archive > At What Point Does TC Become Fiction?

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message 1: by Fishface (last edited Mar 03, 2016 05:12PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Fishface | 11667 comments I'm just wondering where people draw the line on this issue. Truman Capote considered In Cold Blood to be a "nonfiction novel," in a totally different category from either fiction or TC. He certainly wrote in a novelistic style, focused heavily on one killer over the other (although he talked to the neglected killer much more, apparently!) X-acto'd himself out of a story he was very involved in personally and collapsed a few characters into composites, but otherwise the story was true.

Then there's Of Thimble and Threat: The Life of a Ripper Victim. We know Catherine Eddowes really existed and that she was really a victim of Jack the Ripper. But the author of this book wrote a fictional biography of the real person, based on the very sparse facts available about her.

And then there's the loathsome The Girl Next Door. A novel based on the slaying of Sylvia Likens, the book stays extremely close to the true story except for one crucial scene -- in which one of the real torturers, a teenaged boy, sexually assaults Sylvia, the real victim -- which never happened. For me, that not only invalidates the whole book as TC, but makes it into a work of cheeseball exploitation. Didn't she go through enough in real life? Why would you add that? Don't people have any damn decency?

To me, even lite fictionalization is irritating, as when they changed the names of all the major figures in Edward Keyes's Michigan Murders. Jane Mixer becomes Jeanne Holder, that sort of thing.

At what point do you get fed up with fictionalization? How much is too much?


message 2: by Koren (new) - added it

Koren  (koren56) | 1355 comments I agree with everything you said Fishface. I dont want to read a book wondering what is true and what isnt. I even find it irritating to read that the names have been changed to protect the privacy of someone, although it shouldnt matter to me. I wouldnt know them even if I did know their real name. To me it undermines all the work of the truly nonfiction writers who work so hard to verify every fact.


message 3: by Fishface (last edited Mar 04, 2016 07:58AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Fishface | 11667 comments To play Devil's advocate for a moment, I do understand the reasons for changing names -- some people get harassed half to death after their stories are made public, and I think (for instance) the relative of a murder victim deserves some privacy. Before I knew the names had been changed in one book that happened close to where I grew up, I caught myself wondering how I could track this or that person in the book down and find out more. Probably the last thing that person would have needed! But it also makes it really hard to look up old news articles and so on that would allow me to find more information without bothering anyone.


message 4: by Terri (new) - added it

Terri (terrilovescrows) | 292 comments Fishface wrote: "To play Devil's advocate for a moment, I do understand the reasons for changing names -- some people get harassed half to death after their stories are made public, and I think (for instance) the r..."

I agree on this. Sometimes also when they change the witness' name to protect them from retaliation as well.

That said, my biggest gripe is changing the facts for a better story. Jack the Ripper books do it a lot


message 5: by Fishface (last edited Mar 04, 2016 09:53AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Fishface | 11667 comments Terri wrote: "Fishface wrote: "To play Devil's advocate for a moment, I do understand the reasons for changing names -- some people get harassed half to death after their stories are made public, and I think (fo..."

Which makes a cold trail seem even colder than it is...Are there specific facts you're thinking of that someone changed? Do you mean details of the killings themselves or facts about a suspect that get changed to make him look guiltier?


message 6: by Fishface (last edited Mar 04, 2016 09:53AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Fishface | 11667 comments Has anyone but me at this group read For the Love of Lesley: The Moors Murders Remembered by a Victim's Mother? There's a jaw-dropping moment in there. Emlyn Williams, who wrote Beyond Belief: The Moors Murderers. The Story of Ian Brady and Myra Hindley. confronted the mother of one of the victims of the Moors Murders wanting an interview. She said she wasn't up to it and he threatened her, saying in effect "I'll just make up whatever I want if you don't talk to me." Way to lose ALL my respect, there, Em.


message 7: by Koren (new) - added it

Koren  (koren56) | 1355 comments Fishface wrote: "Has anyone but me at this group read For the Love of Lesley: The Moors Murders Remembered by a Victim's Mother? There's a jaw-dropping moment in there. Emlyn Williams, who wrote [boo..."

No I have not read it.


message 8: by Terri (new) - added it

Terri (terrilovescrows) | 292 comments That's horrible! No integrity whatsoever. And cruel as well!


Fishface | 11667 comments Terri wrote: "That's horrible! No integrity whatsoever. And cruel as well!"

I'm happy to report she slammed the door in his face. :)


Fishface | 11667 comments And at what point does fiction somehow become TC? I am so fed up with books that say, for instance, that Countess Bathory killed young girls to bathe in their blood and stay young, when the only people who actually researched the story discovered that the urban legend of the blood baths didn't even surface until 400 years after she died. That's the silliest example but there are plenty of others.


message 11: by Terri (new) - added it

Terri (terrilovescrows) | 292 comments Fishface wrote: "And at what point does fiction somehow become TC? I am so fed up with books that say, for instance, that Countess Bathory killed young girls to bathe in their blood and stay young, when the only pe..."

Funny you should say this now -- the movie with Ingrid Pitt was on Saturday and I tried to watch it - I forgot how bad it was.


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