Saturday, April 23, 2011

In Cold Blood - The Wrap Up

SPOILER ALERT

There. Now that's out of the way, we can get into the real stuff.

*****

Wow. Just, wow.

I have just finished reading 'In Cold Blood', and boy, what a read.

I started it 8 days ago, on a train trip from Dubbo to Sydney. It was just what I needed - a good solid read, that should keep me going for a while, and one that was COMPLETELY different to what I'd just read.

I must admit, I wasn't sure what to expect from Capote's non-fiction novel when I started it. I think I expected it to be quite clinical, but I found it read as well as any Sherlock Holmes tale, and even better than Agatha Christie's novels.

But did I love it? Well, yes, but kind of reluctantly. It was certainly moving and beautifully written. The descriptive style was incredibly magnificent, setting up the scene beautifully. The problem I had with it was that it tied me to the Clutter family's characters so tightly, that knowing that they were all going to die was absolute agony. It felt horrid enjoying such a powerful true story.

I got upset, angry, but what Capote did that really surprised me was the level of empathy he built up between the reader and the killers. Okay, Dick was true to his name, but almost everybody involved in the story seemed to feel something for Perry. The guy had a pretty horrible life, but what he did was even worse. I couldn't help wanting to take him aside and ask, "Why? What could I have done to help you? What could anyone have done? Why didn't you ask for help when it could have been offered?"

'In Cold Blood' tells a story of pain and evil and anguish, but it is all so remarkably human. Capote seems to be trying to get the point across that any of these people could easily be replaced with any of us. Victim, killer, witness, investigator: any one of them could have been you or me, or someone just like us.

This book will easily be one of the books that stays with me for a long time, not only because it challenges the way the reader thinks about all the characters, but because it raises a lot of questions about the inevitable final chapter of the book - capital punishment. I have always been 100% opposed to the concept, but what do you do with those that have committed such heinous crimes? I like to think that enforced solitary confinement for the rest of one's natural life is the best option, but even that has huge ethical issues attached. So what do we do with them?

That's a question I don't think either I or Capote have an answer to.

******

Did you read along with me, or have you read the book before? What were your thoughts? I'd love to hear them. Leave them in the comments.

And as for the next book, I haven't decided yet. The Easter weekend means that I probably won't get a new one until Monday, so it may be a re-reader. Although I'd really like a new one. Hmm... We'll see.

Catch you soon,

x Noni Doll


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