I’ve just finished reading Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, a seminal work that merges true-crime journalism with literature.  If you haven’t read it, or another book like it (I recommend Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil), then it’s an interesting style that I highly recommend.

First, as always, I need to mention how I’m in no way qualified to comment on a book like this.  You have to assume that significant underlying themes go unnoticed by me.  But, nevertheless, I feel like writing these pieces helps me to better understand what I’ve just read.  You’re job, as the reader, is to catch me on mistakes and suggest your own interpretations.

That being said, I want to first draw attention to the nuanced narrative Capote created.  The level of detail present is staggering.  He knew the town of Holcomb and its inhabitants so well he was able to draw in everyday occurrences as significant thematic devices.

For instance, towards the end of the book, Perry Smith found himself gazing out the barred window of his cell while enduring his trial.  Capote created an image of two tomcats roaming the town, plucking dead birds from the grills of cars.  The metaphor was unmistakable: two free cats, surviving by their wits to scrape by, street savvy but unable to better themselves.  Just like Perry and his compatriot Dick Hickock.

There was an outright sadness throughout the end of the book.  When desperation gave in to acceptance of the inevitable on the part of Perry, you can’t help by question your assumptions of his actions and the events that led up to his incarceration.  Which, of course, was part of Truman’s goal: to show the aftermath of the heinous crime on both the town and the killers themselves.

There’s a lot more to say about In Cold Blood, but I’ll stop here for now.  I read through the entire book in about 3 days – an exceedingly short time for me.  But it was a book I found I couldn’t put down.  It created a different level of suspense: not one of “what’s about to happen next”, but one of “I don’t want to know what happens next, but I must”.  Very interesting.