Monday, August 24, 2015
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
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.
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: http://www.notablebiographies.com/Ca-Ch/Capote-Truman.html
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!