Monday, August 24, 2015

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

My dear fellow readers/writers,

I would like to apologize emphatically about not being able to post. You may think that it is my extreme laziness (that is not true...okay, maybe it is a little) that causes me to abandon my blog continually. However, seeing as it is junior year and I am going through one of the most stressful and important stages of my life, please cut me some slack. I have not had much time to read. You can now expect a blog post every week or two.

The next book that I am going to review is one of the scariest, saddest books I have ever read in American literature. No wonder this book ruined Capote because it is just an incredibly tragic and terrifying read. I seriously applaud Capote's skill because this book is a magnificent addition to the literary world. Obviously you can guess the rating I'm giving it: five stars. Because of this, I am refraining from using any bad language or any jokes about the characters because I want you all to read it.

Star Noble

In November 1959, four horrifying murders occurred in the tiny and obscure town of Holcomb, Kansas. In the span of a few hours, the Clutter family, a good and honest God-fearing people were killed in their beds by gunshots to the face. Federal agents were called from the neighboring states to investigate but the killers left no clues except a bloody footprint and smudges next to Mr. Clutter's body.

While America searched for the murderers, the townspeople were completely bewildered. For the Clutters were the least likely of folks to have enemies much less murdered in one night. Great, wonderful and kind people. Mr. Clutter was a strict yet loyal member to the church and his wife, though frail and nervous had a good heart. They had two daughters married and engaged and a teenage son, Kenyon, and daughter, Nancy  living with them in Holcomb. So how could something so terrible happen to someone so good? was the question that the citizens grappled with. And does that mean we are all in danger?

While the town worried for their lives and locked their doors, the federal agents continued to search for the killers. After about a few months, Perry Edward Smith and his friend, Dick Eugent Hickock were arrested a couple states away. Taken to Holcomb prison for their upcoming execution, they weren't greeted by roaring rage and flying pieces of spittle from the citizens but silence. Dead silence. As if they were surprised that the killers looked like them; human. It was about five years later though, on April 14, 1965, that Smith and Hickock were hanged in Lansing, Kansas for their crimes.

Though the plot of the novel is rather sad and scary, I have read many "true-crime" novels where the serial killer kills about fifteen women before cutting them up and burying them. The details in some of those novels are truly disgusting yet this is the book that frightens me most of all. Four murders. Seems like a small amount compared to fifty but losses of life nonetheless. So chilling and personal is Capote's In Cold Blood that I was a bit nervous about keeping the book by my bed. Capote pulls us right into the lives of the Clutter family: from Nancy's social personality to Kenyon's quiet yet intelligent attitude. We get glimpses of their rooms and their habits. We stay with them for a few days, observing through Capote's trained eye of their lifestyles and routines. We become so fully immersed in the details of their lives that when they are ripped from us, we feel the terrifying loss. One line in particular jolted me and that was right after Nancy Clutter has been discovered dead and Mr. Ewalt, the man who found her, tried to call for help. "...Told me there was a telephone in the kitchen. I found it, right where she said. But the receiver was off the hook and when I picked it up, the telephone line had been cut." How did Capote manage to make a cut telephone line a living nightmare? Perhaps it is the symbolism of a life being ended, cut short too fast. Or perhaps it makes us imagine what happened that night the Clutters died. That is the power of great writing: it takes facts, usually boring and dull, and makes our heart pound faster.

Capote's imagery is fantastic and often I find him describing the clear blue Kansas sky which is so in contrast with the murder and horrors happening underneath it. Capote is unflinching in his description of the Clutter family's deaths, giving us detailed paragraphs of the limbs in rigor mortis and the exact brutal way they each died.  I felt everything--the shock, the sadness, the disbelief--that the townspeople felt when they heard about their deaths. It is this fine detail that made me attached to the Clutters and it is what made this a such a tragedy.

Capote doesn't just describe the Clutters. He describes the men who took their lives with great skill as well. What made such ruthless killers who would destroy an innocent family without any prior thought? What pasts could have causes such monsters in flesh? But as Capote explores the pasts of Smith and Hickock, I realized something rather frightening. What if this lethal pair was born this way? What if no amount of good parenting can prevent a killer?

In Cold Blood is a heart-pounding, tragic true story about an innocent family murdered in cold blood. It is about a town that was explicably altered by the horrors that year. It is about how the seemingly human appearance of a pair of men may be a mask of the monster within.


For more information about Truman Capote and In Cold Blood, please look at this website:


A few questions I would like to ask you if you've read the book (or not):

-Do you feel like Capote was sympathetic to the killers?
-What was the best thing you liked about this book?
-Do you think this book portrays what happened in a clear and accurate way?
-What do you think about this book; what rating?

Please comment below!

Star Noble

Monday, August 3, 2015

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

My Rating: 
3.5 stars

Hey y'all! Sorry I haven't posted in a while. I would like to say that I was sorta busy but that's not true. Well, half of it is...I spent nearly two weeks trying to finish this dang book! Anyway I know I wasn't very responsible with posting regularly and I'm sorry. Unfortunately, school is going to start soon so I can't promise regular, on-time posting. However, I hope I will be able to post a review every week. Sorry. :((

Let's get back to the books, shall we? A month ago, I felt that I needed to seriously broaden my horizons. I have been reading YA fiction since I was ten and I loved it. But there's only so much that a girl can be surprised about when reading YA fiction. To be truthful, most YA fiction use the same repetitive plot. Sure, it may be a different setting and different characters but you always have the girl meets boy, girl and boy fall in love, problems arise and boy makes dumb mistake, girl and boy break up, boy professes undying love for girl aaandd they get back together. Of course, there are a few amazing YA books but the others kind of just fall to the back of my mind. So I felt I needed a change. I needed to read a book that was so amazing and beautiful that my world view would be changed. So my friend asked me if I had read "Anna Karenina" by Leo Tolstoy. And I was like "No! The freaking book is, like, 800 pages!!" And she was like, "Yeah, but it's a classic." And I said, "What's it about? Please, please. Give me a book that isn't the regular YA plot." 

And she said, "It's about a Russian wealthy socialite who falls in love with a count."


But I read the book anyways. I had heard a lot of great things about it and even the title sounds regal and beautiful.I had heard famous quotes that made the poet in me fangirl like crazy. So I borrowed it from my local library even if the premise was everything I was hoping to avoid. I cuddled into my blanket and settled in my bed with it, hoping, begging for a good read. 

I kind of succeeded. In a way, it was so much more complex than I thought when I read the summary. Complexity is good. It was seriously intricate because it touched upon many issues in Russian society. Like the fact that Anna Karenina, the socialite by falling in love with a count is seen as a slut by her society. And the fact that the count, Vronsky, is the victim of her machinations. The title of the book is also deceiving. Though it is called "Anna Karenina" the book speaks from at least ten different characters' points of views. You have Konstantin Levin, a wealthy yet awkward man who eschews society and its pleasures. Kitty, a beautiful yet naive princess who also falls in love with Vronsky. All of these characters, including Anna and Vronsky, share their sorrows and worries through 800 pages and long, long sentences with hard vocabulary.

And gosh, did it take forever. It never seemed to end and the characters had endless problems. I had read a review on this book on Goodreads and the girl stated the problem perfectly. If you aren't interested in the book's characters and you can't feel sympathy or anger for specific characters, put the book down and walk away. It's not the right book for you. In the middle of my arduous task of finishing it, I seriously felt that way most of the time and I wondered if I was wasting my time with it. 

But the truth is, it was a fantastic book. Though complex and difficult to read, Tolstoy is able to highlight the issues of Russian society--the high standards set for women to be virtuous and innocent and the question that asks, "Is this society really good?" The view that I got from this book is that Tolstoy's society is poisonous, harmful and insidious. Though the people smile and compliment each other on the outside, they secretly have different, usually opposite feelings. Throughout the book, I felt Anna's strain to keep up a cheerful, cool demeanor in front of judging women who rejected her. I watched as the strain of looking happy and the realization that she was a social outcast changed Anna into a brilliant, bright woman into a jealous, depressed one. 

The truth is, I hated Anna. I hated her because she got swept away by Vronsky's charm and dropped everything, including her little son and husband. Her husband, who had his own flaws, decided to forgive her for the affair and how did she repay his generosity? By hating him and saying that she couldn't stand his "magnanimity" because it ashamed her. Apparently, it "ashamed" her to the point that she decided to run away with Vronsky and leave her abandoned son and husband at home. Vronsky was also a douche who cared little about anyone else other than himself and Anna. He was charming and handsome but on the inside, I felt like he was an uncertain little boy who didn't know how to handle the mess he and Anna created.

But part of me wonders why I hated some of these character so. Is it because part of me sees the depravity and immorality that may exist in each one of us? Or maybe that I wished for a clean, good character but got flawed, fickle characters instead? And does the portrayal of Anna and Vronsky reflect real life people? 

The answer is I don't know. This book twisted me into an awkward mess because I had no idea how to feel about it. I hated it, loved it and regretted it. The characters made so many mistakes, thought so many negative thoughts and were so fickle with love. The book was so long yet it was an incredible journey that gave me insight into the lives of these characters and Russian society. I don't know if I can say it is unforgettable but I understand why it is a classic. 

Some quotes:

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

“He stepped down, trying not to look long at her, as if she were the sun, yet he saw her, like the sun, even without looking.” 

“I think... if it is true that 
there are as many minds as there 
are heads, then there are as many 
kinds of love as there are hearts.”