In Cold Blood – Shelf of Abandoned Books


I remember buying this book second hand because of the movie Capote, in which Philip Seymour Hoffman (may he rest in peace) played Truman Capote. Had I read the book before I saw Capote, it would have been a different story to me. Let me go back a bit to explain that.

It was about three years ago and I was visiting my mum for a few days. She had to work while I was there, which is okay because she works at night. After she left for her shift, I got bored so I went through here DVD collection on the shelf and my finger stopped at this DVD – Capote. Of course I was intruiged because I had seen and read Breakfast at Tiffany’s. To be perfectly honest, Breakfast at Tiffany’s was to this point the only story I knew he had written. So I watched the movie and the whole time I kept thinking what an extraordinary man Truman Capote was. I liked the fact that this movie didn’t show him as some flawless person, it didn’t turn him into a saint – on the contrary, it showed some ugly sides without making you lose sympathy. In short, it was a humane potrait of a human being. For those of you who haven’t seen Capote: The movie tells about the time when Capote wrote In Cold Blood, how he drove to Kansas with his best friend Harper Lee to do research, how he made friends with the people who lived there and who were still shaken by the murders of the Clutter family, and how at the same time he fell in love with one of the killers of said family he described in the book. It tells about his struggle to find the right tone with his story, how he tries not to hurt anyone anew but fails miserably because he has to be true to himself and his art. I can only recommend it.

As for the book, of course I had to read it after I’ve seen the story of its creation. And because I know that it is based on true events, that the characters are people who have lived once, who suffered; because I know that the author suffered emotionally while he was writing it and that he had this deep connection to the people he was writing about – on both sides, the ‘good’ and the ‘evil’ one, which makes it all the more a truthful book, I treasure this book and its story. It is a horrible story, beautifully written. I don’t know if any other writer could have done this balancing act, between describing what happened without judging the people involved, and engaging the reader emotionally at the same time. I’m glad I finally read it, it was like getting the missing half of something. Now both stories – the story in the book and the story of the book’s genesis – come together and form a picture of a brilliant, imperfect writer who discovered beauty in something horrifying.