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Truman Capote: In Cold Blood [discussion thread]

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Truman Capote: In Cold Blood [discussion thread]

Old 05-16-02, 10:35 AM
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Truman Capote: In Cold Blood drags

I've only read a few things by Capote, and In Cold Blood was the first. (The movie was on tv before I left this morning and I was thinking about the book during my drive.) He was trying to do some ultra-realist novel when he wrote it- from what I hear- but really I just thought it was boring.

(Of course there is good dull and bad dull. M. Bovary- good dull if you can find a decent translation. Sons and Lovers- bad dull, I don't need to know every facial expression that someone makes during the course of a conversation.)

So, is it worthwhile to try and write a book that is so "real" that is tedious, just so people can say, 'hey, that's exactly how it happend'? Or is 'realism' a lost cause-- since nothing written can ever be that real.

Maybe I'm off base, In Cold Blood really could be worthy of the praise. (The movie sucked though)
Old 05-16-02, 02:22 PM
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Still haven't read it. Its one of the 30 or so books that I own, but haven't gotten to yet. But I'm severely cutting back on my purchases for awhile.


I think realism is in a coma for awhile - it'll be back and kicking eventually, but for awhile its gone.
Old 05-16-02, 05:14 PM
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I dunno, I rather like "Cold Blood." It isn't the fastest moving book of all time, but I kind of thought that was the point, to get as much detail as possible about this crime and the events leading up to it down. Strictly as an act of journalism it's an impressive piece of work, even if Capote's biases show through a little too often. It's not a book I'd read again and again - I think I've read it twice - but it is a fairly gripping read, one of the better depictions of how murder really happens as a series of small events piling up on top of each other, IMHO.
Old 05-17-02, 08:43 AM
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It's been seven or eight years since I read In Cold Blood, but I recall being very moved by it.

I don't know if it's fair to compare In Cold Blood to traditional Realists and Naturalists like Flaubert, though. It should probably be grouped, instead, with the other New Journalists of Capote's day -- Norman Mailer, Tom Wolfe, Hunter Thompson -- guys who began applying fiction techniques to what would otherwise be called journalism. In Cold Blood, in particular, is largely responsible for the whole "True Crime" genre.

I think any contemporary writer who sets out to represent real Truth in a novel is doing so naively. The Enlightment's dead and buried. But, having said that, I also think that most of America's best writers right now are using fairly traditional forms, though tempered by some postmodern conceits. For instance, I'm rereading Philip Roth's American Pastoral (1995) right now -- a near perfect novel, imo. Although it's framed by Roth's typical self-reflexivity, it's a fairly traditional narrative. It doesn't claim to be truth or "realism," but it's certainly traditional compared to the experimentation of the heydays of Gass, Pynchon, Barth, and Coover.

Short answer: I think we're in the midst of a moderate "realist" backlash to the ironic Nihilism of hard postmodernism. I hope so, at least.
Old 05-30-02, 10:03 AM
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Originally posted by Darren H
It's been seven or eight years since I read In Cold Blood, but I recall being very moved by it.

I don't know if it's fair to compare In Cold Blood to traditional Realists and Naturalists like Flaubert, though. It should probably be grouped, instead, with the other New Journalists of Capote's day -- Norman Mailer, Tom Wolfe, Hunter Thompson -- guys who began applying fiction techniques to what would otherwise be called journalism. In Cold Blood, in particular, is largely responsible for the whole "True Crime" genre.

[...]

Short answer: I think we're in the midst of a moderate "realist" backlash to the ironic Nihilism of hard postmodernism. I hope so, at least.
Really good points across the board, I think that I was prematurely disrepecting the importance of the act of writing this book. Regarding it as an attempt at new journalism makes it a more interesting read.

Also, I hope that the "backlash" last for a while.

edited to say what I was thinking and not what I wrote

Last edited by gondorspit; 05-30-02 at 10:05 AM.
Old 05-30-02, 02:31 PM
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I took a college class called "Novels into Movies" and "In Cold Blood," was one of the books that was required for us to read. I did find this book rather interesting. The characters were rather well written. I don't remember much about the book. But, I did like how it was paced and the character development. Maybe, I will have to go back and read it again. I found it much more interesting than "Kiss of the Spiderwoman."
Old 07-16-02, 02:30 PM
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"In Cold Blood" - Discussion


In Cold Blood
by Truman Capote

- under 'True Crime'.

I just finished this. I couldn't put it down. I waited till I finished the book to look do a google search for the Clutter family.
Old 07-17-02, 12:34 AM
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I read it about 3 months ago and I wasn't too impressed. I give Capote credit for his work on the book, but I think much of the hoopla surrounding it is because it was one of the first of it's kind (true crime).
Old 07-20-02, 09:51 PM
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I read it before I went to bed and had one of the worst nightmares in my life. I had to throw the book in the trash before it made me a nervous wreck.


The movie's pretty disturbing, too.
Old 02-27-06, 07:10 AM
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In Cold Blood: Best. Book. Ever.

Finished reading IN COLD BLOOD by Capote a couple of weeks ago and it's still on my mind. Such a powerful book. The writing is simply brilliant. I read this book in three sittings and just couldn't put it down. Sounds cliche, but that's only happened to me a few times.

I'm actually thinking that this book as spoiled me. I'm not sure I can read some of the other drivel I usually enjoy after taking this one in.
Old 02-27-06, 07:42 PM
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Originally Posted by devilpants
I read it before I went to bed and had one of the worst nightmares in my life. I had to throw the book in the trash before it made me a nervous wreck.
We hear you Joey Tribbiani.
Old 03-04-06, 01:49 PM
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I actually picked it up and started reading it for the third time last night. I thought I'd get it fresh in my mind in preparation for the Capote DVD in a couple of weeks. As earlier posters have said, I think it really stands out as gripping journalism as much as anything else (at least to me). I also couldn't put it down the first time I read it. To me, from what I remember from reading it before, his character descriptions of the Clutter family just do such a great job of really making you feel connected to them.

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