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In Cold Blood

In Cold Blood

Truman Capote


Reportage about a gruesome quadruple murder followed from beginning to end. It's a deservedly classic tale, a "non-fiction novel" (as Capote described it) where the basic plot is true but with the dialogue and details elaborated for the sake of story-telling.

I first read this book about thirty years ago, and my perceptions of it this time are rather different to back then. There was a basic question I didn't then ask, but should have done: what is the position of the author in this?

Capote as a character is entirely absent from the book, as is Harper Lee, who accompanied and assisted him. It's since been revealed that Capote was in fairly close contact with the perpetrators, and had to wait – with increasing frustration – until they were executed and he could finally close (and publish) the story. He presented himself and the story differently to them than it was in reality, and there's a slightly ghoulish aspect to the way he needed them to die for literary effect as much as for anything else: the death row and execution scenes are some of the most powerful in the book, and it really wouldn't work without that end to the character arcs.

5/5. Finished 15 October 2022.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)

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