Communicator (communicator) wrote,
Communicator
communicator

What else I read on my holidays

I knew I would forget one. I also read 'In Cold Blood' by Truman Capote. Subtitle 'A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences '. I would unhesitatingly recommend this book to just about anyone as the writing is first rate, and the story is fascinating. Capote has traced the aftermath of a real life murder from three perspectives: the small Kansas town in which it took place, the police operation to track down the killers, and most interestingly of all, the two culprits on the run and after their capture. There is no attempt to glamorise or excuse them, but their personalities are vividly drawn.

For me the most interesting sequence in the book is a set of two letters: one to Perry Smith (one of the killers, a schizophrenic) from his only surviving sister (his other siblings all killed themselves) while he was in prison on a previous charge, and an 'analysis' of the letter by an older prisoner who befriended him and might have been a settling influence. The first is illiterate, ignorant, small minded, innocent, and acute. The second is not quite as clever as it thinks it is, and yet wise. The interplay of the two documents, presented almost without comment, is fascinating.

The 'true crime' genre is pretty debased these days, but this book is not trashy or exploitative. The actual killing is treated with some restraint. Capote's two strengths seem to have been the ability to elicit confidences from a wide range of people, and then to render them in first rate vivid prose.
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