Wednesday, December 1

Truman's Day Out

Just finished reading In Cold Blood last Monday, that loser and almost totally useless holiday. I've had the book on my shelves for like three years and picked it up and put it down, never really getting past the first page.

Then a couple of weeks back, I saw a post on Metafilter about the 45th anniversary of the crime that inspired the book. The four members of the Herbert W. Clutter family were found in separate rooms, tied up in a comfortable position, and heads blasted off with a shotgun. The killers made off with $40 dollars and a portable radio, no sign of violence, and the police were virtually clueless. So I started reading, inching forward a few pages, little snips during train rides and before bed, while munching lunch, before naps. Took me two weeks, and finally given a huge push last Monday when you really wouldn't want to do anything else except hide under blankets, dose and read.

In Cold Blood was billed as a "nonfiction novel," and it made its author not just quite wealthy, but also cemented his reputation in the literary circles. If you're a true crime sort of person, this is for you. Mr. Capote did what we tried and couldn't quite do as well before in my past life as a crime writer for tv. Galing, galing, galing. Of course, there are some people who are convinced the book's not 100% honest. In an interview with George Plimpton, Mr. Capote said that he's been on the look out for an event "would allow him to write a "non-fiction" novel – in his definition, a factual book written using the literary skills of an accomplished novelist." The main contention being that the book quotes lengthy passages of conversation, and yet Capote never took notes.

There were also some catty claims. One is that Capote fell in love with Perry Smith, the "gentler" one of the two murderers, enough to pay $10,000 to be let into his cell in death row. But the Kansas agents and prison warden denied the allegations, saying it was not possible. Nevertheless, it was a very good book, whatever his motivations were.

A while back, came across another MeFi post about Mr. Capote's first unpublished novel, Summer Crossing. Although the report says it's "kind of a pre-'Breakfast at Tiffany's," I think it suspiciously sounds like this movie. Better na nga siguro he didn't publish it.

[Links mostly cribbed from this MeFi post, which got me started on the book anyhow.]

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