Thursday, September 16, 2010

My Favorite Reads: In Cold Blood

In My Favorite Reads each week I feature one of my favorite reads from the past. September is Banned Books month, so all my featured books this month have been banned/challenged somewhere in the US. This week my book is In Cold Blood by Truman Capote.

Summary (from the publisher):
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.

Why I chose this book:
Wow, this book was riveting. I'm pretty sure I read it all in one day. I wanted to see what the big deal was, plus it's supposed to be one of the first nonfiction works that was written like a novel which is normal nowadays but was revolutionary when Capote did it. But those thoughts went right out the window once I got into the book, as the story was so fascinating. The Clutters were such a nice, caring, ordinary family, and the two killers were also pretty ordinary. It was such a preventable tragedy, if the parents of Hickock and Smith had just done a marginally better job raising those boys, it isn't much of stretch to believe this never would have happened. Capote gives both sides of the story so evenly that during the hunt for Hickock and Smith, it's hard to figure out who to root for - the police or the murderers. A deserving classic, instead of being banned this book should be required reading.


Unknown said...

Wonderful post. I actually belong to a book club which reads classics, otherwise I'd never have the motivation to read them.


Alyce said...

I've been wanting to read this book for a long time, but may put it off for a while longer. I live in a small community that is still reeling from the murders of a well-liked farming couple by their youngest son last month. It was something he planned out and it was pretty brutal. I know I will read this book eventually though, I'll just have to wait until these things are not so fresh in my mind.

Carin Siegfried said...

@Man of la Books - I try to read 1 classic a year. Of course I define "classics" loosely and one year I counted All The President's Men. My book club tries to do one a year but sometimes I've already read it or have a conflict with that month's meeting. I've not been good about this in recent years but I did read The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie this year which I'm counting.

@Alyce - my God, I am so sorry! Yes, you should shelve this for a very long time. That sounds just horrible and I think this book would bring up bad memories. Not the least because it is fairly sympathetic to the murderers. There are so many other great books out there that won't be so emotionally wrenching.