The Mystery, Crime, and Thriller Group discussion

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Group Read Discussions > July 2018 Group Read -- In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote

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message 1: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 9325 comments Mod
This is your space for discussing Truman Capote's famous In Cold Blood. Have a great conversation!!


message 2: by Linda (new)

Linda (beaulieulinda117gmailcom) | 1483 comments I'm almost half way through. It reads like a novel not a nonfiction piece of work.


message 3: by Judy (new)

Judy Robertson | 12 comments I just started it today. I’m running behind! I will stay up late to catch up.


message 4: by Judy (new)

Judy Robertson | 12 comments Oh and right off the bat I had to chuckle. “nervous spells”. I’m from Oklahoma and my Momma used to gossip about the women who had “nervous breakdowns”. I guess there wasn’t a word for depression back then. Kind of sad.


message 5: by Eldon (new)

Eldon Farrell I remember reading this classic. You're all in for a real treat :)


message 6: by Shiloh (new)

Shiloh Mccollum | 2 comments I really liked this book. The psychology, although not definitively mentioned, was very compelling.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 554 comments Great book. You might not want to read it at bedtime, though!


message 8: by Suzy (new)

Suzy (goodreadscomsuzy_hillard) | 663 comments Judy wrote: "Oh and right off the bat I had to chuckle. “nervous spells”. I’m from Oklahoma and my Momma used to gossip about the women who had “nervous breakdowns”. I guess there wasn’t a word for depression b..."

Same for me! I also grew up in a rural area.


message 9: by Suzy (new)

Suzy (goodreadscomsuzy_hillard) | 663 comments I'm in the early chapters and one thing that strikes me - the writing! Capote can really paint a picture and engage the emotions. This was such a landmark in narrative non-fiction - reads like a novel.


message 10: by Judy (new)

Judy Robertson | 12 comments It absolutely reads like a novel Suzy. I even find myself hoping the farmer and his family do not die. It's ridiculous I know, but the way it reads is suspenseful.


message 11: by Patty (new)

Patty | 3077 comments When I first read this book, it was my first Creative Nonfiction books; emphasis on creative. I wound up reading up on Truman Capote's time while writing this book while reading this book.

If anyone is interested, below is a link to a documentary about the Clutter family murders. I suggest watching it after you read the book.



https://m.imdb.com/title/tt7531564/


message 12: by Eldon (new)

Eldon Farrell Patty wrote: "When I first read this book, it was my first Creative Nonfiction books; emphasis on creative. I wound up reading up on Truman Capote's time while writing this book while reading this book.

If any..."


Cool :) Thanks!


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

Just picked up my copy from the library and will be starting it later today. Glad to finally be reading this one.


message 14: by izzy (new)

izzy  | 3 comments i will read it


message 15: by Jean (new)

Jean | 287 comments "Non-fiction" was how Capote classified it, but he was criticized for altering facts and changing conversations/interviews. Obviously, he could not have known what was said between members of the Clutter family, so he had to use his imagination. As Patty says, it's creative non-fiction.


message 16: by Suzy (last edited Jul 02, 2018 07:39AM) (new)

Suzy (goodreadscomsuzy_hillard) | 663 comments I've been thinking the same thing as I read the first section before the crime where Capote has written in-depth conversations between members of the Clutter family and others and between Dick and Perry. It reads like a novel because he is writing it like a novel. But for me, it's the writing that makes the difference in engaging the reader in this book.

I've also been thinking that this approach was a game-changer in the some non-fiction is written, especially true crime. I've been trying to think of contemporary authors who are carrying on this legacy. Erik Larson comes to mind as well as David Grann, the author of our other book pick for July. What other authors do you think embody this approach to writing non-fiction?


message 17: by Patty (new)

Patty | 3077 comments To me, there's a difference between Erik Larsen's writing and Truman Capote.

Creative non-fiction does not mean the invention and manipulation of facts.

If, for example, the writer researches that the weather on an important day was especially windy and rainy around noon, and also knew that the main person in their story was seen at noon dragging a large bag, it wouldn't be wrong to add to the story that the main person had to fight against the rain and wind. That she became wet; that this weather made her work harder. This is information not known, per say, but it can be added, creatively, to bring more excitement to the story.

Erik Larsen and David Grann have sources you can go back and check out their facts. You can't do the same with Truman Capote. He has quotes; made up crime scene information; etc.

Don't get me wrong; it's a great book, but it can't be compared with books that can be held up to scrutiny.


message 18: by Judy (new)

Judy Robertson | 12 comments I agree with the sentiments about the embellishments. I was apprehensive at first. For example when he writes about the woman (sorry her name escapes me) holding Perry’s hand. She denied that in later interviews, and my first inclination was to believe Capote. The era would not be forgiving of a woman empathizing with a murderer, but this was an assumption for me. As I have learned more about Capote he seemed to be a tormented soul and was widely known for his over exaggerations. That being said, the book is fantastic so far and I look forward to reading the rest. It is truly captivating and gives me a chance to satisfy a morbid curiosity that I believe lives in us all, to know why and what makes another human do this.


message 19: by Patty (new)

Patty | 3077 comments I'm with you there, Judy. He tells a great story.


message 20: by M.L. (new)

M.L. | 365 comments I like journalistic accuracy. In this case though, considering the intimate nature of the crime as opposed to widely publicized serial killings, the way Capote wrote it has the most impact. George Plimpton's book, Truman Capote, reveals a lot about what went into writing it and that's one reason he can immerse the reader; the other is of course his writing, brilliant.


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) | 581 comments Patty wrote: "Erik Larsen and David Grann have sources you can go back and check out their facts. You can't do the same with Truman Capote. He has quotes; made up crime scene information; etc. "

I agree. I think Larsen and Grann both write entertaining stories because they don't allow their research to clutter up their narrative but that doesn't mean they didn't do their homework. They both keep the story up front where it belongs and use their research to fill in the details unlike some authors who get sidetracked by incidental details.


message 22: by Patty (new)

Patty | 3077 comments Someone who does a lot of research. It gets lost in the detail is Kate Summerscale. Ive read two of her non-fiction books, both of which were very intricately researched. There was so much detail; too much detail. Both books--to me--suffered.

The books I read:

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective

https://m.barnesandnoble.com/w/suspic...

The Wicked Boy: The Infamous Murder in Victorian England

https://m.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-wi...


message 23: by Gisela (new)

Gisela Hafezparast | 368 comments Suzy wrote: "I've been thinking the same thing as I read the first section before the crime where Capote has written in-depth conversations between members of the Clutter family and others and between Dick and ..."
Another similar one is One of Us: The Story of Anders Breivik and the Massacre in Norway, which is amazing and horrifying in the same way, but very readable.


message 24: by Linda (new)

Linda (beaulieulinda117gmailcom) | 1483 comments I really liked the beginning half but then he kept veering off to other criminals a d their sentences. I found this to be both annoying and unwarrented.


message 25: by Gisela (new)

Gisela Hafezparast | 368 comments I found the backstory of the criminals very interesting. I don't believe in born evil, but made evil and I think at least one of the criminals (sorry, can't remember which one) was a perfect example for this.


message 26: by Suzy (new)

Suzy (goodreadscomsuzy_hillard) | 663 comments Gisela wrote: "Suzy wrote: "I've been thinking the same thing as I read the first section before the crime where Capote has written in-depth conversations between members of the Clutter family and others and betw..."

I will have to check into this, Gisela.


message 27: by Suzy (new)

Suzy (goodreadscomsuzy_hillard) | 663 comments Just a reminder that this is the NON-spoiler thread. Please make more in-depth comments on the Spoiler thread.

I don't think comments so far have spoiled anything for those of us who haven't finished, but they are veering close. :)
Thanks!


message 28: by Renee (new)

Renee (elenarenee) | 182 comments Capote was a genius. I love the term Creative Non-Fiction. I have heard this book called the first true crime book. I wonder if it is the first creative Non- fiction also.



Patty wrote: "When I first read this book, it was my first Creative Nonfiction books; emphasis on creative. I wound up reading up on Truman Capote's time while writing this book while reading this book.

If any..."



message 29: by Renee (new)

Renee (elenarenee) | 182 comments Patty this description sounds like a description of historical fiction. How does when differentiate between the two?

i>Patty wrote: "To me, there's a difference between Erik Larsen's writing and Truman Capote.

Creative non-fiction does not mean the invention and manipulation of facts.

If, for example, the writer researches th..."


message 30: by Suzy (new)

Suzy (goodreadscomsuzy_hillard) | 663 comments I have always heard that In Cold Blood was a pioneer - maybe the first - in the craft of narrative non-fiction, so I decided to look it up. This led me to the Wikipedia entry to creative non-fiction, also called literary non-fiction or narrative non-fiction. The entry is illuminating and explains that creative and narrative are in the same category, but slightly different. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creativ...

I'm also collecting some articles and criticism of In Cold Blood - many of which I'll post in the spoiler thread, but I thought this article in the NY Times was really interesting. It talks about how Capote always wanted to write a non-fiction novel but until the Clutter murders hadn't come up with a topic that would endure the tests of time. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/p...


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 554 comments Would agree totally about Kate Summerscale - clearly really does her research, but somehow it's not as enthralling a read as I would hope for.

I've always liked the story that the folks in Kansas didn't know what to make of Truman Capote, and weren't exactly eager to talk to him - but they liked that nice Southern lady who was with him (Harper Lee).


message 32: by Patty (new)

Patty | 3077 comments Renee, I'm not too sure by what you mean when you say this (what I said) sounds like historical fiction. Do you mean the genre of Creative non-fiction? If so, it is not.

Historical fiction adds dialogue, plays loose with the facts. There is imaginative reconstruction of events, as well as fictional characters thrown in. The historical person--if any--may be put into situations fictionalized events and relationships.

Creative Nonfiction is based entirely on facts. There is a section at the back with citations, sources, a bibliography. The creativity comes in it is not in the form of added people, events, conjecture.


message 33: by Patty (new)

Patty | 3077 comments I've read interviews with the the investigators. Capote changed who did what to make things more dramatic.


message 34: by Suzy (new)

Suzy (goodreadscomsuzy_hillard) | 663 comments I'm going to suggest that we don't really need a spoiler thread for this book. So much is known about the story already. ALLEN, to me your post is full of spoilers giving away much, but then it doesn't seem possible to have a discussion of this book without spoilers.

How does that sound to others? If you all agree, I say spoil away and if you want to avoid seeing them, check in after finishing the book.


message 35: by Judy (new)

Judy Robertson | 12 comments Suzy I totally agree, I was worried about spoilers and then thought I was being silly. I think it’s because it reads so much like a novel. Heck I’ve even seen the movie Capote and it’s based on this research, but how loosely I’m not sure. It’s kind of like I said earlier, I found myself hoping they escaped death even though I knew I was reading non fiction. I guess it’s what makes this book so enjoyable.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 554 comments Yeah, I don't think that there can really be "spoilers" with this one.


message 37: by ALLEN (last edited Jul 04, 2018 07:59PM) (new)

ALLEN | 4532 comments Somehow I was under the impression that spoilers, so called, were okay here. My mistake, and I am sorry for the confusion. I've read ICB five times and conducted literary chat-groups on it twice, so I do have some background. I have also read in the secondary literature. Whether I can succeed in not showing what I know is another matter.

The best thing for me is to recuse myself from this discussion before I annoy any more people who had different or fewer expectations. I appreciate those who came to my defense by pointing out that spoilers are difficult if not impossible to avoid -- I think part of the problem is that if this "non-fiction novel" is treated entirely as a novel, then spoilers would help ruin the goings-on; if treated as nonfiction, a kind of history, they are less intrusive. Also, "spoiler" got its origin in "plot spoiler" -- did my talking about Capote's use of quotation as regards Bonnie's friends or the local postmistress spoil any plot?

For those who would appreciate some background on the book, its researching, writing, and reception, I commend to them chapters 38 through 43 of Gerald Clarke's biography, Capote. It was first published in 1988, four years after Capote's death, and has never gone out of print.


message 38: by Gisela (new)

Gisela Hafezparast | 368 comments Susanna - Censored by GoodReads wrote: "Would agree totally about Kate Summerscale - clearly really does her research, but somehow it's not as enthralling a read as I would hope for.

I've always liked the story that the folks in Kansas ..."

LoL


message 39: by Patty (new)

Patty | 3077 comments Don't go, Allen.


message 40: by ALLEN (new)

ALLEN | 4532 comments Patty wrote: "Don't go, Allen."

Patty, you're very kind. I will still follow this thread. Perhaps I will feel moved to contribute in the future, but as for now the "Spoiler Thread" seems more like my place. - a.s.


message 41: by Patty (new)

Patty | 3077 comments Then I need to find the Spoiler Thread.


message 43: by Judy (new)

Judy Robertson | 12 comments Oh no don’t go Allen, I would love to hear your insight. Sounds like you can offer amazing insight.


message 44: by ALLEN (last edited Jul 05, 2018 01:05PM) (new)

ALLEN | 4532 comments It's still early in July, and I hope to come back when my discussions fit what people want to talk about, and do not constitute "spoilers" in the opinion of many.

For now, there's a perfectly nice "spoiler" thread going here:
https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...

I think I can honestly say that I like IN COLD BLOOD very, very much. It hurts me when people hold it up to other true-crime works and find it wanting over such ephemera as its not having photographs. (For that matter, neither does Dave Cullen's Columbine.) But I have to resist the temptation to get all "love me, love my dog" about the book, and to confine my more thematic approach to where it rightfully belongs.


message 45: by Suzy (new)

Suzy (goodreadscomsuzy_hillard) | 663 comments Hi everyone - me again! :)

Just to clarify . . . with this group there are always two discussion threads. One is for general discussion (doesn't say anything about spoilers) and one calls out that it is the "spoiler thread".

It looks like Patty and ALLEN are conversing in the spoiler thread, so let's keep this one as free of spoilers as possible and when you so desire (typically when you've finished the book), port over to the spoiler thread for more in-depth comments.

I'll put the articles from The New Yorker and The Guardian, which are full of spoilers in the spoiler thread. They are INTERESTING!!


message 46: by Suzy (new)

Suzy (goodreadscomsuzy_hillard) | 663 comments ALLEN wrote: "It's still early in July, and I hope to come back when my discussions fit what people want to talk about, and do not constitute "spoilers" in the opinion of many.

For now, there's a perfectly nic..."


Hi ALLEN - please don't take personally the suggestion to initially keep this thread free of spoilers. And please don't feel a need to defend ICB or Capote. This book and he are both highly controversial which is what will make this conversation rich and lively! We're all going to have our reactions and insights to share and we want to hear yours too!!


message 47: by ALLEN (last edited Jul 05, 2018 05:43PM) (new)

ALLEN | 4532 comments . . . and you will. No, I'm not offended. It's just that most people haven't read the whole book yet, so one man's discussion is another's spoilers. I can wait. And there is the other thread, which permits spoilers:
https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...


message 48: by Suzy (new)

Suzy (goodreadscomsuzy_hillard) | 663 comments ALLEN wrote: ". . . and you will. No, I'm not offended. It's just that most people haven't read the whole book yet, so one man's discussion is another's spoilers. I can wait. And there is the other thread, which..."

Yes, see my previous comment. For this group there is always a non-spoiler and a spoiler thread for all book picks. Looking forward to our discussions in both threads.


message 49: by Patty (new)

Patty | 3077 comments So, let's discuss this book without spoilers. Where are we in the reading of it?

I'll be honest, this is hard to discuss, unless we choose to discuss Capote instead.

Allen, wasn't Capote behind in sending his editor his written pages? I'm too lazy this morning to look for myself. 😊

Also, on the spoiler page, I will be putting a link about a manuscript by one of the killers.


message 50: by Judy (new)

Judy Robertson | 12 comments This is the first time I am reading ICB or anything from Capote, and I have a question for the veterans. There are sentence structure, and grammatical issues throughout. I’m curious about that. I have read books written in and before this time frame. Was this intentional? I’m not speaking of the southern sayings that I find endearing. Does anyone have insight to this?


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