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IN COLD BLOOD
by TRUMAN CAPOTE
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New softcover book. 343 pages.
On November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family were savagely murdered by blasts from a shotgun held a few inches from their faces. There was no apparent motive for the crime, and there were almost no clues.
As Truman Capote reconstructs the murder and the investigation that led to the capture, trial, and execution of the killers, he generates both mesmerizing suspense and astonishing empathy. In Cold Blood is a work that transcends its moment, yielding poignant insights into the nature of American violence.
In Cold Blood details the 1959 slaying of Herbert Clutter, a wealthy farmer from Holcomb, Kansas; his wife, and two children. When Capote learned of the quadruple murder before the killers were captured, he decided to travel to Kansas and write about the crime. Bringing his childhood friend and fellow author Harper Lee along, together they interviewed local residents and investigators assigned to the case and took thousands of pages of notes. The killers, Richard "Dick" Hickock and Perry Smith, were arrested not long after the murders, and Capote ultimately spent six years working on the book. It is considered the originator of the non-fiction novel and the forerunner of the New Journalism movement.
The story weaves a complicated psychological story of two parolees who together commit a mass murder, an act they were not capable of individually. Capote's book also details the lives of the victims and the effect the crime had on where they lived. A large part of the story involves the dynamic psychological relationship of the two felons that culminated in this senseless crime. In Cold Blood is often regarded as a pioneering work of true crime.
In Cold Blood was first published as a four-part serial in The New Yorker, beginning with the September 25, 1965 issue. The piece was an immediate sensation, particularly in Kansas where The New Yorker had sent no more than the usual number of copies which sold out almost instantly. In Cold Blood was first published in book form by Random House in January of 1966.
About the Author
Truman Capote (30 September 1924, New Orleans, Louisiana – 25 August 1984, Los Angeles, California) was an American writer whose stories, novels, plays and non-fiction are recognized literary classics, including the novella Breakfast at Tiffany's (1958) and In Cold Blood (1965), which he labeled a "non-fiction novel". At least 20 films and TV dramas have been produced from Capote novels, stories and screenplays.
Capote remained a lifelong friend of his Monroeville neighbor Harper Lee, and he based the character of Idabel in Other Voices, Other Rooms on her. He in turn was the inspiration for the character Dill, in Lee's 1960 bestselling, Pulitzer prize-winning To Kill a Mockingbird. Like Capote, Dill is creative, bold and had an unsatisfactory family history. In an interview with Lawrence Grobel, Capote recalled his childhood, "Mr. and Mrs. Lee, Harper Lee's mother and father, lived very near. Harper Lee was my best friend. Did you ever read her book, To Kill a Mockingbird? I'm a character in that book, which takes place in the same small town in Alabama where we both lived."
Capote, best known for his works Breakfast at Tiffany's and In Cold Blood, reached a pinnacle that many writers dream of but few ever ascend. And no one climbed to that summit like Capote. Truman pioneered a new literary genre, the Nonfiction Novel, with what many claim as his ultimate work, In Cold Blood, the story of a rural Kansas murder recounting journalistic facts with the flair of prose.
To celebrate his rise to the summit of society in 1966, Capote hosted what would become known as the highlight of social events for years to come, the famous Black and White Ball. Capote's natural talent for weaving truth with fiction and his unflinching descriptions of his friends soon led to his rapid descent in popularity in the social circles he had worked so hard to adopt.
The rejection of his friends let to his increased drinking and drug use. His lack of continued sobriety in later years was matched only by his lack of work. Capote became more of a recluse and his last work, Answered Prayers (where he offended many of his friends) was published after his death. Truman Capote died on August 25, 1984, but his presence remains alive in the 21st century, even among today's celebrated caricatures.
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote