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This review is from: In Cold Blood : A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
There is no doubt Capote was a man of rare ability. One of his contempories - Norman Mailer - described Truman as: "The most beautiful writer of my generation." Mailer had an impeccable ego (roughly, the size of Kansas), so any praise from him was to be taken seriously.
And Truman's book is a serious one; six years in the researching and writing, it was a labour of love; or, perhaps, obsession.
What is the point of talking about this book? It is a famous book, one that made Capote's name, and is an example of the writing style called "New Journalism", the creative style merged with factual reporting, but what makes it great, a classic?
The story is horrific: a multiple murder for no gain, no more than forty or fifty dollars, and the killers drove eight hundred miles overnight to perpetrate it; so why did they bother? That was one of two questions I had; the other was: how did they get caught?
What else is there? We know they murder the family and we know they get hanged for it, there's not a lot of mystery here.
The killers are wasters; just drifting bums with no morality glueing the seperate parts of their brain together, yet Capote paints one in a sympathetic light, and leaves the other to appear evil in his friends reflection.
Poor old Perry Smith; he had a crappy life and no-one loved him, so its no surprise he turned out like he did, is it?
But wild Dick Hickock, why, he was a murdering monster: a man vomited straight from the devil's gut onto the earth.
Capote tells us (more than once) how Smith stopped Hickock raping Nancy Clutter during the robbery. Smith was obviously a man of rare self-control.
It's a shame he didn't have the self-control to stop himself obliterating her head with a .12 gauge shotgun.
The imbalance in Capote's portraits is ridiculous.
And the killers are the author's main focus, they are what and who he was interested in, not the victims.
This is worth buying and worth reading, if nothing else, for the privilege of reading Truman's gorgeous prose.