Tuesday, 5 January 2010

In Cold Blood - A Neer Day Treat!

Not the first way you would think of spending New Years Day reading about a multiple murder in Mid West in the 1950s but I am really glad I did.

An incredibly well written book which although based on a real-life incident is an example of how to write experimental narrative. Using multiple voices - witness statements, materials from the killers, newspaper articles, academic journals to explore amorality. It was labelled "New Journalism" but it is more indicative of a modern novel.

The sense of location is strong - funnily enough it reminded me of two non - fiction books I have read in the last few years - Collapse and Fast Food nation which although about very different topics gave a similar picture of the Mid-West in the States - the people, landscape nature of the environment.

As a form of combining fiction with real events you are never sure when Capote is expanding on the truth or simply making it up. But he is such a good writer that is not a hindrance - only I suppose if you wanted it as historical document. A criticism is that Capote got too close to murderers but the narrator's voice is quite absent - Capote is only directly referred to at one point near the end of the book. This occurred to such an extent I wasnt sure if he was present at the execution - he was apparently.

Moral ? Well it's definitely not a campaigning book against a miscarriage of justice it does show the mess society and families can make of people or how supportive it can be. It also shows the randomness of brutal violence - like being struck with lightening as the investigating cop calls it. Very influential and I am intrigued to read Capote's other material.

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