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Group Read > In Cold Blood- August 15th 2014

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message 1: by Alias Reader (last edited Aug 05, 2014 06:17AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments What's this? The thread for our Group Read.

Book: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote In Cold Blood

Author: Truman Capote Truman Capote

Genre: Nonfiction – True Crime


When ?: *** Please Note Change of Start date !
The discussion begins on August 15th, 2014. You don't have to have the book finished by then, just start reading it by then. Also if you happen to read it before you can post here. Though remember to use SPOILER Warnings at the top of your post.

Where: The entire discussion will take place in this thread.

Spoiler Etiquette:
Even though the book is a classic, please remember to still use the SPOILER Warning at the top of your post if giving away a major plot element.

The book is divided up into 4 parts - please put the Part # at the top of your post and the chapter name.

Book Details:
In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences
Truman Capote, 1965
Knopf Doubleday
368 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780679745587

The book is also available on Kindle, Nook and audio book.

Synopsis:
On November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family were savagely murdered by blasts from a shotgun held a few inches from their faces. There was no apparent motive for the crime, and there were almost no clues.

As Truman Capote reconstructs the murder and the investigation that led to the capture, trial, and execution of the killers, he generates both mesmerizing suspense and astonishing empathy. In Cold Blood is a work that transcends its moment, yielding poignant insights into the nature of American violence.


message 2: by Alias Reader (last edited Jul 30, 2014 05:00PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments Discussion Questions --- Contains Spoilers !

1. Start with the victims. What kind of family is the Clutter household? In what way does Capote create sympathy for them? Do you feel they represented the American Dream?

2. How does Capote, as a writer, handle the actual murder of the Clutter family. Or is it too gruesome, too heartbreaking to discuss?

3. Discuss the killers, Perry Smith and Richard Hickock. What kind of men were they? What were their motives in committing murder? Talk about their backgrounds and psychological make-ups? Think, for instance, about Perry Smith's chilling comment: "I thought he was a very nice gentleman.... I thought so right up to the moment I cut this throat."

4. In many ways, In Cold Blood is about the murderers. Do you feel they deserve such attention? Do you think that Capote pulls off the near impossible—does he build sympathy, in your mind, for the killers? Does he endow them—Perry Smith, in particular—with any kind of humanity? Or does he depict them as savage animals, devoid of human redemption?

5. What was the impact of the murders on the Holcomb community? How did it alter the residents' perceptions of the natural order of things, of life?

6. With this book, Truman has been credited with developing a new genre of writing: "literary non-fiction." What might that term mean, and how does In Cold Blood differ from straight crime reporting? Why did Capote create the kind of story he did, and what is its impact on the reader of this new approach?

7. Suggestion: Watch the 2005 film, Capote, with Philip Seymour Hoffman in the role of Truman Capote. Does the film affect your view of Capote and his motives in writing his book?

http://www.litlovers.com


message 3: by Alias Reader (last edited Jul 30, 2014 05:06PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments

Author Bio

• Aka—Truman Streckfus Persons
• Birth—September 30, 1924
• Where—New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
• Death—August 25, 1984
• Where—Los Angeles, California
• Education—Trinity School and St. John's Academy in New
York City and Greenwich High School in Connecticut
• Awards—O.Henry Memorial Short Story Prize, twice;
member, National Institute of Arts and Letters.


When Truman Capote debuted on the New York literary scene in 1948, no one had seen anything quite like him. Capote soon became famous for his intensely readable and nuanced short stories, novels, and novellas, but he was equally famous as a personality, gadfly, and bon vivant — not to mention as a crime writer. Capote’s much-imitated 1965 book, In Cold Blood, all but invented the narrative true-crime genre. (From Barnes and Noble.)

Capote is also credited with the development of what is now referred to as "literary non-fiction."


www.litlovers.com


message 4: by Alias Reader (last edited Jul 30, 2014 05:06PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments More Discussion Questions ---


Questions contain SPOILERS!



1. Did anyone look up the French epigraph at the beginning of the book? Francois Villon, “Ballade des Pendus,” translates to:

Human brothers who live after us,
Do not have (your) hearts hardened against us,
For, if you take pity on us poor (fellows),
God will sooner have mercy on you.

What do you think Capote meant, using this as the epigraph?

2. Why do you think Truman Capote introduced the town first, then the Clutters and then the murderers?

3. Do you like Mr. Clutter and his family when you meet them?

4. What is your first impression of Perry and Dick?

5. What about the Clutters? Did you feel like you knew them?

6. On page 37, Dick boasts that nothing can go wrong. Was he prepared or naïve?

7. When you read a quote like “Ain’t that what I promised you, honey – plenty of hair on them-those walls?” (p. 37) What does it make you feel towards Dick?

8. How does Capote build suspense in In Cold Blood?

9. Capote goes back and forth in chapters between the Clutters and the murderers. Then Capote goes back and forth from the police and the murderers. Why? Was this an effective way to tell a story?

10. What did you think of Capote’s use of direct quotes?

11. Did this read like other nonfiction books you’ve read? Why or why not?

12. What does the term “nonfiction novel” mean?

13. Do you think Capote gave a fair amount of time to all characters involved?

14. Who seemed like the worse criminal, Dick or Perry? Do you think that had anything to do with Capote’s writing style?

15. Perry admits to thinking that they are “wrong,” but Dick continually calls himself a “normal.” (p. 109) What do you think this says about each of the men?

16. Who do you pity in this story?

17. Does it change your opinion of Perry to know that he was a veteran (page 128) or to know that he was sexually abused (p. 133)?

18. How did the police get their big break in the case?

19. Do you think Floyd Wells felt bad about telling Dick about the Clutter family?

20. What did you think of Dick’s family’s reaction to hearing that he was a murderer?

21. When Dick and Perry are caught, who breaks to the cops first? Why?

22. Was there a specific moment that scared you with either criminal?

23. If a horrible crime happened in your town, would you talk to a dedicated writer about it?

24. Was there a passage of this book that was harder to read than others?

25. Do you believe that the farmhand Stoecklein didn’t hear the four gunshots next door?

26. What did you think of the insurance man’s reaction to hearing of Mr. Clutter’s death? (p. 71)

27. What did you think of Dick and Perry’s reactions to murdering four people? (p. 73 – 74, p. 91)

28. Nye says, “Nobody would kill four people for fifty bucks,” (p. 87). Do you think this is true today? Do you think it was true then?

29. What did you think of Josie and Wendle Meier? Josie showed calm and caring. Could you have showed that to either Dick or Perry? Would you have?

30. Don Cullivan, an old Army buddy of Perry’s, comes to visit. Why?

31. Perry changed his statement to say he murdered everybody. Why?

32. Do you think there is a difference between reading a true crime book and reading a violent fiction book? Do you feel different while reading one as compared to the other?

33. Was there a section that moved slower than others?

34. Did you like where the book stopped at? Would you have wanted its ending to have come sooner?

35. Do you think Capote did this town good or a disservice by writing In Cold Blood?

36. Do you believe in the death penalty?

37. Do you think Dick and Perry “got what they deserved?”

38. Perry didn’t believe in the death penalty, he said, “I think it’s a helluva thing to take a life in this manner. I don’t believe in capital punishment, morally or legally.” (p. 340) How did this strike you?

39. What did you think of each man’s last words?

-Perry p. 340
-Dick p. 339

40. Do you think Capote believed in capital punishment?

http://mppl.org/check-it-out/book-dis...


message 5: by Alias Reader (last edited Jul 30, 2014 05:13PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments Often we here at Book Nook Café like to compare the book and movie. Here is the movie info.

In Cold Blood (1967)

Director: Richard Brooks

Actors:
Robert Blake ... Perry
Scott Wilson ... Dick
John Forsythe ... Alvin Dewey
Paul Stewart ... Jensen

Runtime: 134 min




message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

Very excited about getting started on this one!


message 8: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments Alias Reader wrote: "Often we here at Book Nook Café like to compare the book and movie. Here is the movie info.

In Cold 1967 ....."


There was also a version made for TV. www.imdb.com/title/tt0116619/
It didn't compare to the original but I thought I'd mention it. Eric Roberts and Anthony Edwards portrayed the killers.


message 9: by Carol (last edited Jul 31, 2014 01:06PM) (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments I have this book In Cold Blood by Truman Capote . I'm starting today.

I will be out & about traveling this month . . . finally . . .


message 10: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments I read it in high school back when the dinosaurs roamed. It scared the heck out of me.

When I posted the trailer, I have to say, it still scared the heck out of me.

I thought it interesting that the movie was filmed in the same places as the crime. I didn't know that.


message 11: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments Nor did i, Alias. What a layer of authenticity.


message 12: by Susan from MD (last edited Aug 02, 2014 06:08PM) (new)

Susan from MD | 402 comments I'll probably start this today. So excited to get started - which is itself a little disconcerting. This is my first read of this book.

Since I like to answer the questions posted - and since there are LOTS of questions above - I glanced through to pull some that don't really rely on reading the book.

LIST 1 #6. With this book, Truman has been credited with developing a new genre of writing: "literary non-fiction." What might that term mean, and how does In Cold Blood differ from straight crime reporting? Why did Capote create the kind of story he did, and what is its impact on the reader of this new approach?

LIST 2 #12. What does the term “nonfiction novel” mean?


In some ways, I have mixed feelings about the practice of mixing fact and fiction, though I'm not sure that I've read many books using this approach. I think my trepidation comes mostly from films that are about historic events/people but that change some aspects along the way for the sake of drama. I often wonder what was changed and how did "the truth" (a sometime slippery and perspective-driven concept) differ from what's on the screen.

I'm really interested to see how this differs from a straight non-fiction book. Is it the addition of dialogue or perspective? Are there other differences? I'd love to hear others' thoughts on this!

LIST 1 #7. Suggestion: Watch the 2005 film, Capote, with Philip Seymour Hoffman in the role of Truman Capote. Does the film affect your view of Capote and his motives in writing his book?

Well, we'll have to see whether it affects my view of Capote, but I did watch the movie several months ago (and the similar film, Infamous) and will likely watch it again after the book. The movie was compelling.

LIST 2 #36. Do you believe in the death penalty?

I don't feel incredibly strongly on this issue and am not trying to stir the pot on a controversial issue. Apologies to those who differ in view - I'm not trying to start a political or legal or personal or religious debate, just expressing my own view.

There are some very nasty people in the world who don't value the lives of other people. However, I don't believe society (or at least the US - can't really speak to other areas in the world) should use the death penalty, for several reasons.

First, we cannot guarantee that a miscarriage of justice has not occurred - the death penalty is too final. In the US, research has shown bias (race, poverty, quality of legal council) in applying the death penalty and, indeed, many sentences. Until we can say with absolute certainty what happened in the commission of the crime, society should not apply this very final sentence. We already know that people are being released from prison because they were wrongly convicted.

Second, I have a problem with the logic of it - killing is wrong/you killed someone/we will kill you. If we did not have secure prisons, perhaps I would feel differently. Perhaps serial killers would be an exception - they are really predators. On the other hand, we have learned from serial killers in terms of psychology and criminology, so the fact that they provide a way to understand how they think might help society either prevent or limit their impact.

Third, I don't like the "eye for an eye" approach - this starts to cross over to revenge on the killer rather than justice for the victim.

Fourth, the inconsistent application of the death penalty is of concern. Are all killers a danger to society? What about "crimes of passion" versus crimes for gain/planned attacks/etc. - are they the same? The victim(s) are still dead - does the motive matter? I'm not sure.


message 13: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments Carol and Susan you are starting it a month early.

That's cool. Maybe after I finish my current read and the JoJO Moyes book, I'll start it, too. That will probably be around mid August.


message 14: by Alias Reader (last edited Aug 02, 2014 06:55PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments LIST 1 #6. With this book, Truman has been credited with developing a new genre of writing: "literary non-fiction." What might that term mean, and how does In Cold Blood differ from straight crime reporting? Why did Capote create the kind of story he did, and what is its impact on the reader of this new approach?

LIST 2 #12. What does the term “nonfiction novel” mean?

In some ways, I have mixed feelings about the practice of mixing fact and fiction, though I'm not sure that I've read many books using this approach. I think my trepidation comes mostly from films that are about historic events/people but that change some aspects along the way for the sake of drama. I often wonder what was changed and how did "the truth" (a sometime slippery and perspective-driven concept) differ from what's on the screen.

I'm really interested to see how this differs from a straight non-fiction book. Is it the addition of dialogue or perspective? Are there other differences? I'd love to hear others' thoughts on this!
----------------------------------------------

I dislike historical fiction. Literary non fiction is different. I think it takes non fiction and makes it read like a novel. Perhaps added dialogue, for example. I may be wrong but that is my impression.


message 15: by Carol (last edited Aug 02, 2014 07:10PM) (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments If I understand this correctly, did Truman Capote use Harper Lee for helping him with interviews, etc. for In Cold Blood, and yet, in the end, he took all the credit?!

Harper Lee Relationship with Truman Capote: Truman Capote was a neighbor of Harper Lee when they both lived in Monroeville, Alabama as children. The two were best friends as children, and Lee based the character of Dill Harris after Capote. In 1956, the two met again later in life. While Capote was writing an article for The New Yorker about the murder of four members of the Clutter family, Lee traveled with him to Kansas to assist him with interviews of town members, friends, and investigators of the case. During the interview process, the alleged killers were caught in Las Vegas and later interviewed by both Lee and Capote. Harper's notes from the interviews were given to Truman, and Capote worked with Lee periodically on his article which later became the nonfiction novel In Cold Blood. Truman dedicated the book to Lee and his friend Jack Dunphy, however, Capote never recognized Lee for her contributions to the novel. Harper was upset and disappointed with Truman, but she still stayed friends with him until his death in 1984.

Image of Capote and Lee-- http://37.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_l6j...


http://harperleetokillamockingbirdpro...


message 16: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments Definition:

A type of prose that employs the literary techniques usually associated with fiction or poetry to report on persons, places, and events in the real world.

The genre of literary nonfiction (also known as creative nonfiction) is broad enough to include travel writing, nature writing, science writing, sports writing, biography, autobiography, memoir, the interview, and both the familiar and personal essay.


http://grammar.about.com/od/il/g/Lite...


message 17: by Alias Reader (last edited Aug 02, 2014 07:08PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments 100 Major Works of Modern Creative Nonfiction

Essays, memoirs, autobiographies, biographies, travel writing, history, cultural studies, nature writing--all fit under the broad heading of creative nonfiction, and all are represented here: a list of 100 major works of creative nonfiction published by British and American writers over the past 80 years. The links will direct you to representative passages collected in our Scrapbook of Styles.


1.Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness (1968)
2.James Agee, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (1941)
3.Martin Amis, Experience (1995)
4.Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1970)
5.Russell Baker, Growing Up (1982)
6.James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son (1963)
7.Julian Barnes, Nothing to Be Frightened Of (2008)
8.Alan Bennett, Untold Stories (2005)
9.Wendell Berry, Recollected Essays (1981)
10.Bill Bryson, Notes From a Small Island (1995)

11.Anthony Burgess, Little Wilson and Big God: Being the First Part of the Confessions of Anthony Burgess (1987)
12.Joseph Campbell, The Hero With a Thousand Faces (1949)
13.Truman Capote, In Cold Blood (1965)
14.Rachel Carson, Silent Spring (1962)
15.Pat Conroy, The Water Is Wide (1972)
16.Harry Crews, A Childhood: The Biography of a Place (1978)
17.Joan Didion, We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live: Collected Nonfiction (2006)
18.Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking (2005)
19.Annie Dillard, An American Childhood (1987)
20.Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (1974)

21.Barbara Ehrenreich, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America (2001)
22.Gretel Ehrlich, The Solace of Open Spaces (1986)
23.Loren Eiseley, The Immense Journey: An Imaginative Naturalist Explores the Mysteries of Man and Nature (1957)
24.Ralph Ellison, Shadow and Act (1964)
25.Nora Ephron, Crazy Salad: Some Things About Women (1975)
26.Joseph Epstein, Snobbery: The American Version (2002)
27.Richard P. Feynman, The Feynman Lectures on Physics (1964)
28.Shelby Foote, The Civil War: A Narrative (1974)
29.Ian Frazier, Great Plains (1989)
30.Paul Fussell, The Great War and Modern Memory (1975)

31.Stephen Jay Gould, Ever Since Darwin: Reflections in Natural History (1977)
32.Robert Graves, Good-Bye to All That (1929)
33.Alex Haley, The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965)
34.Pete Hamill, A Drinking Life: A Memoir (1994)
35.Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast (1964)
36.Michael Herr, Dispatches (1977)
37.John Hersey, Hiroshima (1946)
38.Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption (2010)
39.Edward Hoagland, The Edward Hoagland Reader (1979)
40.Eric Hoffer, The True Believer: Thoughts On The Nature Of Mass Movements (1951)

41.Richard Hofstadter, Anti-Intellectualism in American Life (1963)
42.Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston, Farewell to Manzanar (1973)
43.Langston Hughes, The Big Sea (1940)
44.Zora Neale Hurston, Dust Tracks on a Road (1942)
45.Aldous Huxley, Collected Essays (1958)
46.Clive James, Reliable Essays: The Best of Clive James (2001)
47.Alfred Kazin, A Walker in the City (1951)
48.Tracy Kidder, House (1985)
49.Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Childhood Among Ghosts (1989)
50.Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962)

51.William Least Heat-Moon, Blue Highways: A Journey into America (1982)
52.Bernard Levin, Enthusiasms (1983)
53.Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape (1986)
54.David McCullough, Truman (1992)
55.Dwight Macdonald, Against The American Grain: Essays on the Effects of Mass Culture (1962)
56.John McPhee, Coming Into the Country (1977)
57.Rosemary Mahoney, Whoredom in Kimmage: The Private Lives of Irish Women (1993)
58.Norman Mailer, The Armies of the Night (1968)
59.Peter Matthiessen, The Snow Leopard (1979)
60.H.L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy: His Own Selection of His Choicest Writing (1949)

61.Joseph Mitchell, Up in the Old Hotel and Other Stories (1992)
62.Jessica Mitford, The American Way of Death (1963)
63.N. Scott Momaday, Names (1977)
64.Lewis Mumford, The City in History: Its Origins, Its Transformations, and Its Prospects (1961)
65.Vladimir Nabokov, Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisited, (1967)
66.P.J. O'Rourke, Parliament of Whores (1991)
67.Susan Orlean, My Kind of Place: Travel Stories from a Woman Who's Been Everywhere (2004)
68.George Orwell, Down and Out in Paris and London (1933)
69.George Orwell, Essays (2002)
70.Cynthia Ozick, Metaphor and Memory (1989)

71.Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1975)
72.Richard Rodriguez, Hunger of Memory (1982)
73.Lillian Ross, Picture (1952)
74.David Sedaris, Me Talk Pretty One Day (2000)
75.Richard Selzer, Taking the World in for Repairs (1986)
76.Zadie Smith, Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays (2009)
77.Susan Sontag, Against Interpretation and Other Essays (1966)
78.John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley (1962)
79.Studs Terkel, Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression (1970)
80.Lewis Thomas, The Lives of a Cell (1974)

81.E.P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class (1963; rev. 1968)
82.Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream (1971)
83.James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times (1933)
84.Lionel Trilling, The Liberal Imagination: Essays on Literature and Society (1950)
85.Barbara Tuchman, The Guns of August (1962)
86.John Updike, Self-Consciousness (1989)
87.Gore Vidal, United States: Essays 1952-1992 (1993)
88.Sarah Vowell, The Wordy Shipmates (2008)
89.Alice Walker, In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: Womanist Prose (1983)
90.David Foster Wallace, A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments (1997)

91.James D. Watson, The Double Helix (1968)
92.Eudora Welty, One Writer's Beginnings (1984)
93.E.B. White, Essays of E.B. White (1977)
94.E.B. White, One Man's Meat (1944)
95.Isabel Wilkerson, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration (2010)
96.Tom Wolfe, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968)
97.Tom Wolfe, The Right Stuff (1979)
98.Tobias Wolff, This Boy's Life: A Memoir (1989)
99.Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own (1929)
100.Richard Wright, Black Boy (1945)

http://grammar.about.com/od/60essays/...


message 18: by Susan from MD (last edited Aug 02, 2014 07:37PM) (new)

Susan from MD | 402 comments Carol wrote: "If I understand this correctly, did Truman Capote use Harper Lee for helping him with interviews, etc. for In Cold Blood, and yet, in the end, he took all the credit?!

Harper Lee Re..."


I saw the dedication and then checked the acknowledgements page - she's not there! There are a couple of sentences that mention the interviews and that: these "collaborators" [in quotes in the book] are identified within the text and it would be redundant to name them here.... I'm not sure whether she is mentioned in the text, as I haven't read the book before.


message 19: by Susan from MD (last edited Aug 02, 2014 07:46PM) (new)

Susan from MD | 402 comments Alias Reader wrote: "Carol and Susan you are starting it a month early.

That's cool. Maybe after I finish my current read and the JoJO Moyes book, I'll start it, too. That will probably be around mid August."


Oops! Well maybe I'll wait then - I haven't started it. I do like being able to chat about the book.

My next book was supposed to be Great Expectations, but after Middlemarch and Emma coming so close together, I was looking for a bit of a break from that period!

ETA: I'm going to read The Handmaid's Tale next. Then Great Expectations.


message 20: by Susan from MD (new)

Susan from MD | 402 comments Alias Reader wrote: "Definition:

A type of prose that employs the literary techniques usually associated with fiction or poetry to report on persons, places, and events in the real world.

The genre of literary nonfi..."


That's certainly a broad genre!


message 21: by Alias Reader (last edited Aug 02, 2014 07:53PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments Alias Reader wrote: "Carol and Susan you are starting it a month early.

That's cool. Maybe after I finish my current read and the JoJO Moyes book, I'll start it, too. That will probably be around mid August."

Oops! Well maybe I'll wait then - I haven't started it. I do like being able to chat about the book...."

=================================
You can start it whenever it's convient for you to do so. That's why I put the thread up.

I just have another book to read after my current read. I know Soph is going to read it as it's her pick. I don't know her schedule.

I also don't know who else is reading it.

I'm excited to read it, too. That's why I purchased the book. I do tend to read a lot slower than you all. I am guessing it will take me 2 weeks to finish it.

It looks like a book that should give us a lot to talk about.


message 22: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments Re. creative nonfiction. To me it's about writing nonfiction in a manner allowing the material to read like a novel. Having read my share of straight nonfiction, i can see the appeal. As long as the facts are accurate, i'm generally alright with it. What i don't like (& where i have read Capote crossed the line) is inserting oneself into the prose &/or fudging facts.

Some people are bothered when quotation marks are used but they are not actually words uttered together by the person to whom it is attributed. This doesn't bother me, partly because my memory for exactly quoting is awful. However, i can understand their problem--why bother with the quotation marks if it's not the actual words? For me, it often helps the text read easier. Again, this would fall under literary/creative NF.

I want to add that i am not sure i would include autobiographies in that category. What we are reading is the author's presentation of their life, as s/he sees it. Did a reader really expect it to be fully accurate, not embellished, and unbiased? I don't. I think it allows readers (&fans) insights into that personality but i think we can't expect the same standards we would of a biography.

Re. the death penalty. I am against it yet fully understand the call for it when crimes of a heinous nature have been committed. This doesn't mean i like it but i don't know what to do about such people.

Has Harper Lee said or written anything about ICB which indicates she is unhappy with the way things turned out? We may have to wait until she dies before knowing her real thoughts, which we hope she's written. Overall, i think it was tacky of Capote to not credit her in some way but he was a kinda tacky person. Of course we could be generous & state that he wanted to protect her from arrows slung at the way he presented the material, this new genre created via the book. Ha!


message 23: by [deleted user] (new)

If everyone is kinda ready to start I will probably start it next. I am reading The Art of Fielding at the moment but should be finished on that by mid-August. I had nothing else planned in so I will get going on In Cold Blood after that!

That's a really great list of 'literary non-fiction' Alias - as far as my non-fiction choices go I think I tend to lean towards this kind of thing. I don't like to read too much solid information and I enjoy a story in things even if they are true.

I'm surprised not to see Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil on that list, as it was the first thing that came to my mind as literary non fiction. I LOVED that book so much, it was a 10/10 for me.


message 24: by Alias Reader (last edited Aug 05, 2014 06:14AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments Yes, Soph, MITGOGAE was a good read. The first book I thought of in the genre was the Excellent The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

I guess, I will start it also mid August. I should change the start date on our main page if everyone agrees on moving the date up.

I'm glad to see everyone so interested in the novel !


message 25: by Alias Reader (last edited Aug 05, 2014 06:18AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments Important Please Read !

I've changed the start date on the home page and in this thread.

The new start date for us to begin reading the novel is now

August 15, 2014


message 26: by Alison (new)

Alison (alisoncohen) | 13 comments Soph wrote: "I'm surprised not to see Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil on that list, as it was the first thing that came to my mind as literary non fiction."

I agree that it was a helluva compelling read. The reason it may not have made the list is the same reason that it was bypassed by the Pulitzer board after being named a finalist -- it played fast & loose with the facts. In a fascinating article in the Columbia Journalism Review, author Marcel Dufresne explains: “Some of the liberties Berendt took in the book stem from his decision to make himself a character in it and to put himself into scenes where he hadn't been present. The author didn't start serious reporting in Savannah until 1985, four years after Hansford's death. Yet he appears as a narrative character in many scenes set before then: in Mercer House during an angry tirade by Hansford; inside the courtroom at Williams's first two trials; at a midnight voodoo ritual, from which the book's title emerges.

“Many such scenes are reported in minute detail, with transcript-like dialogue. Some reviewers were taken in. The New York Times, for instance, reported matter-of-factly in its March 1994 review that "six months after Mr. Berendt arrived, Williams was charged in the 1981 shooting."

Midnight is still a great read, but probably should be shelved as a historical novel.


message 27: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments Alison wrote: Midnight is still a great read, but probably should be shelved as a historical novel. ..."

Great info, Alison ! Thanks for sharing.


message 28: by [deleted user] (new)

Alias Reader wrote: "Alison wrote: Midnight is still a great read, but probably should be shelved as a historical novel. ..."

Great info, Alison ! Thanks for sharing."


Yes excellent point. We had a little discussion about this when I read Travels with Charley this year. Some of the stuff Steinbeck wrote about may have been embellished etc. Mind you, that's on the list so who knows! He probably wasn't so easy to check up on.

I wonder how many story-driven non fiction books have this issue - I suppose many of them if they are being written on historical subjects. I guess I am not much of a 'pure' non-fiction reader so I tend to gravitate towards things that read like novels.


message 29: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments Soph, i find the less pure nonfiction easier & usually more fun to read. They are better when the events are about cities or places i don't know...or news...or people. After that it gets murky. I think we know enough about George Washington that we don't need it written in the creative nonfiction style. Then again, there may be many people who prefer it that way and/or would never read about him (or any topic) otherwise.

Alison, thanks for the info. I liked Berendt's book but wondered about some parts & how he factored into it. Now i have a better idea.


message 30: by Alison (last edited Aug 07, 2014 01:49PM) (new)

Alison (alisoncohen) | 13 comments I don't have an issue with invented dialogue in memoirs - I always assume that they are written to be true to the feelings and perceptions of the author. I figure if the author intended flat-out truth-telling, s/he would have written an autobiography. I apply the same distinction to historical fiction vs literary non-fiction. If you are going to say it's non-fiction, you get to interpret the facts but not invent them.

My favorite explanation of literary non-fiction/literary journalism comes from an old Poynter Institute publication that advised when writing a news story about a car crashing into a bar, upsetting tables but not injuring the dog riding in the vehicle that you get "the name of the dog, the brand of the beer and the color of the car" to pull the reader into the story and keep them reading to the end. But there damn well better have been a bar, a car and dog and a beer involved or it's just a pack of lies.

: )


message 31: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments Alison wrote:If you are going to say it's non-fiction, you get to interpret the facts but not invent them.

My favorite explanation of literary non-fiction/literary journalism comes from an old Poynter Institute publication that advised when writing a news story about a car crashing into a bar, upsetting tables but not injuring the dog riding in the vehicle that you get "the name of the dog, the brand of the beer and the color of the car" to pull the reader into the story and keep them reading to the end. But there damn well better have been a bar, a car and dog and a beer involved or it's just a pack of lies.
..."


That's probably the best definition I've read. Thanks, Alison !


message 32: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments Alison, I enjoyed looking at your photos. The duck picture is wonderful ! Is the pink house yours? It so cute.


message 33: by Alison (new)

Alison (alisoncohen) | 13 comments Thanks! The duck picture is of the Make Way for Ducklings sculpture in Boston Public Garden. The Alice in Wonderland and Secret Garden sculptures are in Central Park and the Peter Pan sculpture is in Carl Schurz Park in Manhattan. I used to maintain social media sites for a teacher prep program and loved to post images evoking children's authors and books. I had great fun searching them out.

The pink house is my cottage in Martha's Vineyard. It's one of about 300 gingerbread cottages in a former Methodist Summer revival site in Oak Bluffs. We named our cottage Two Bad Cats. Oz is next door and Alice's Wonderland just a few doors down. We plan to retire there (along with the eponymous bad cats) in less than two years. You'll have to come visit!


message 34: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments I recognized the ones from Central Park. I live in NYC. If I am ever in Boston I'll have to check out the ducks.

Congratulations on your imminent retirement. I bet you are counting the weeks. No doubt the year will fly by. I've never been to Martha's Vineyard but it sounds wonderful from what I've heard.

Your porch looks like a lovely place to sit and read. I am green with envy!


message 35: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments Alison, thanks for that definition of literary nf/literary journalism. It's one that should stick with me. It's those details that give a full picture but also seems to be "padding".


message 36: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments I am at the mid point in my current read. I will try to read it as quickly as I can. I hope to start ICB by Monday the latest.


message 37: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments I will definitely finish my current read this weekend. I can't wait to start ICB. For those that have started on time, please don't hesitate to start posting. You don't have to finish the book before you post. Just remember our spoiler suggestion from Post #1.

---Spoiler Etiquette:
Even though the book is a classic, please remember to still use the SPOILER Warning at the top of your post if giving away a major plot element.

The book is divided up into 4 parts - please put the Part # at the top of your post and the chapter name.


message 38: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments Has anyone started ? If so, I will read it along with my current read. If not, I'll just finish up my current read. Thanks!


message 39: by Susan from MD (new)

Susan from MD | 402 comments I started it yesterday. So far, it is going quickly.


message 40: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments I'm 1/2 way done- on page 159.


message 41: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments Cool. I'll start today.

Are you enjoying it? I know the story is not pleasant. However, I am sure the writing is excellent.

You don't have to wait until you finish to comment. Just use the spoiler warning.

---Spoiler Etiquette:
Even though the book is a classic, please remember to still use the SPOILER Warning at the top of your post if giving away a major plot element.

The book is divided up into 4 parts - please put the Part # at the top of your post and the chapter name.


message 42: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments I'm not a big fan of murder mystery books. I liked the Clutter family. I don't know how any human being could follow through with a quadruple murder to people they never knew.


message 43: by Alias Reader (last edited Aug 18, 2014 07:55AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments Interesting that Capote decided on a French epigraph. Now we can easily use the internet for a translation. Any ideas why he would choose to do this when one would think most of his readers don't speak French and finding a translation would not be as easy as it is today?

What do you think of the epigraph itself?

Freres humains qui après nous vivez,
N’ayez les cuers contre nous endurcis,
Car, se pitié de nous povres avez,
Dieu en aura plus tost de vous mercis.


This translates into English as:


Brothers, men who live after us,
Let not your hearts be hardened against us,
Because, if you have pity for us poor men,
God will have more mercy toward you

The name of the piece by Francois Villon is “Ballade des pendus” which translates into “Ballad of the Hanged Man”.

- translation from Pop Matters. com

From Yahoo I found this,
Francois Villon was a medieval French poet. He was a criminal, and at one point was sentenced to death by hanging. "Ballade des pendus" (The Ballad of the Hanged) was written by Villon in prison soon before he was to be hanged.


Here is the full poem
Men my brothers who after us live,
have your hearts against us not hardened.
For—if of poor us you take pity,
God of you sooner will show mercy.
You see us here, attached.
As for the flesh we too well have fed,
long since it's been devoured or has rotted.
And we the bones are becoming ash and dust.

Of our pain let nobody laugh,
but pray God
would us all absolve.

If you my brothers I call, do not
scoff at us in disdain, though killed
we were by justice. Yet ss you know
all men are not of good sound sense.
Plead our behalf since we are dead naked
with the Son of Mary the Virgin
that His grace be not for us dried up
preserving us from hell's fulminations.

We're dead after all. Let no soul revile us,
but pray God
would us all absolve.

Rain has washed us, laundered us,
and the sun has dried us black.
Worse—ravens plucked our eyes hollow
and picked our beards and brows.
Never ever have we sat down, but
this way, and that way, at the wind's
good pleasure ceaselessly we swing 'n swivel,
more nibbled at than sewing thimbles.

Therefore, think not of joining our guild,
but pray God
would us all absolve.

Prince Jesus, who over all has lordship,
care that hell not gain of us dominion.
With it we have no business, fast or loose.

People, here be no mocking,
but pray God
would us all absolve.


~~~François Villon


message 44: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments http://www.shmoop.com/in-cold-blood/e...

What Capote is doing here is setting us up for the central moral question in his book. What do we make of people who commit such shocking crimes? Do their lives have any moral standing at all? Is the death penalty morally justified? Do the condemned deserve pity, or at least, mercy?

If you read the ending of the poem, you'll see that the men about to hang pray to Jesus for salvation for themselves. Perry and Dick had no use for religion. The men in the poem surely did. They believe that God demands mercy. Do you think that God is the only reason to show mercy?


message 45: by Alias Reader (last edited Aug 18, 2014 09:41AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments Yes, I read that online. However, when Capote wrote the book in 1965 we didn't have online resources. What was the average reader to think? I doubt this was a popular poem that most people would know or even have in their home collections.

The online questions are interesting. I'll have to keep them in mind as I read.


message 46: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments I love how he opens the book with the description of Kansas. It's quite striking to anything I know living in NY. Has anyone been there or lives there?


message 47: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments We drove through Garden City several times When we lived in the OK panhandle. Even though had read ICB in 1970, i had forgotten the murders were committed nearby. In many ways I'm glad because it seems ghoulish to visit a small town for that reason.

West Kansas is like many of the western parts of the plains states--vast, wide open and dry during the summer. What is interesting to me about Capote's description is that it is the view of a man living in NYC and who raised in the south. This allowed him to see the starkness in a way long time citizens of the area wouldn't describe it.


message 48: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments Madrano wrote: "What is interesting to me about Capote's description is that it is the view of a man living in NYC and who raised in the south. This allowed him to see the starkness in a way long time citizens of the area wouldn't describe it.
..."


Excellent point, deb.

I want to see if I can find anything online about Holcomb today, 55 years after this horrific crime. Things like population, economics etc.


message 49: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18813 comments wiki
The 2005 movie Capote, directed by Bennett Miller, is also about the author Capote, and provides great insight into Mr. Capote, his writing of the novel, and the crimes in Holcomb[citation needed]. The 2006 film Infamous, starring Toby Jones as Capote, covers much of the same material.
-----------

My library has ICB and Capote. I'll watch both after I finish the book.


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