Tuesday, August 15, 2006

What Are People Saying About IN COLD BLOOD?

Thirty years after it was first published, Truman Capote's IN COLD BLOOD still fascinates. In telling the story of the 1959 murders of the Cutters, a wealthy family from Holcomb, Kansas, Capote aimed to create a new genre, the non-fiction novel. Aided by his childhood friend Harper Lee, Capote did extensive research in Holcomb and conducted in-depth interviews with the murderers, Perry Smith and Richard Hickock. When it was published in January 1966, In Cold Blood was a commercial and critical success and marked the high point of Capote's career as a writer.

Recently the Central Daytime Book Club met to discuss the book. Jason Ezell, co-moderator of the group, gives us an inside look at what people are saying about In Cold Blood:

Our Central Daytime Book Club met on Wednesday, Aug. 2nd, to discuss Truman Capote's In Cold Blood. Discussion first centered on how Capote managed to treat the factual material with the artistry of fiction, often lulling us into forgetting the story was based on true events and then reminding us, too, at times, how real these events were. One member commented on how Smith and Hickock are alternately portrayed as callous criminals and then as victims of a harsh society and that this maneuver complicates the placement of our sympathies. We discussed how the book seemed to go beyond the story of a murder and provide a portrait of 50s America, shining a light on all its fault lines and exclusions as well as on its cultural achievement.

Capote's novel led us to parallel discussions about our criminal justice system and, specifically, the death penalty. We speculated about the development of the criminal mind and the potential for rehabilitation. We talked about Capote's methods of collecting information for In Cold Blood, which led us to talk a bit about the recent Academy Award-nominated film "Capote." The group also commented on similarities between this novel and Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird and recalled Lee's role in helping Capote research for the book.

Our group's discussion of this book was a very good one, ranging from social issues to literary technique and history.

Our next meeting will be on Wednesday, September 6th, at 10:30 a.m. at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library. The book for that discussion will be Waiting by Ha Jin, the story of a love triangle in contemporary China. [Book Description]

Please call (901) 415-2726 for more information.

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