Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood
Sparked by a discussion on Twitter this week (with southern fiction fan – Barbara Hart) about Capote’s Summer Crossing and the upcoming film adaptation , I remembered that the first Truman Capote work that I read was In Cold Blood.
I bought it at a garage sale for 25 cents. I had no idea what it was, only that I liked the black and white cover. It looked like a grown up book, and I was desperate for one of those.
Well, I got my wish.
I couldn’t quit reading. I read the entire book, cover to cover, in two days. And, then, I read it again. I think I read it four times before I picked up anything else.
I didn’t know anything like this book existed. I had never heard of “true crime” novels. If you don’t know the story, here’s the nutshell version –
1959 – Kansas
A farming family in Holcomb, Kansas, The Clutters, are murdered by two men – Dick Hickock and Perry Smith. Before the men are arrested for the murders (six weeks after the killings), Truman Capote and Harper Lee (shout out to Zen Cherry – a fellow Lee fan) travel to Holcomb because as soon as Capote reads about the quadruple homicide in the newspaper, he decides he is going to go research it and write about it.
Off they go – Capote and Lee – to rural Kansas. When they arrive, they go about interviewing local residents, investigators, friends and family members of the murdered Clutter family. Capote and Lee take thousands of pages of notes. Yes, that says THOUSANDS. One estimate is 8000 pages of notes!
The men – Hickock and Smith – are arrested six weeks after the murder. At the trial, the men plead temporary insanity. They were declared fit to stand trial, and were found guilty.
April 14, 1965 – the two men were hanged.
It took Capote six years to write the book.
“No one will ever know what ‘In Cold Blood’ took out of me. It scraped me right down to the marrow of my bones. It nearly killed me. I think, in a way, it did kill me.” — Truman Capote