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In Cold Blood

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By Truman Capote

I first read In Cold Blood twenty years ago when I was in college. I still have my original worn copy. Can I just tell you what a joy it was to re-read an old book, a book whose jacket was slightly torn, whose pages I had already touched and turned before? It makes me long to visit Sam Weller’s used section again. There is something mystical about reading a book that has been read and pondered over before.

Now – to In Cold Blood. This was the first, according to many, non-fiction novel – truly groundbreaking in its approach to the subject matter of the inexplicable killings of a family in Kansas by two men who came to rob them, believing they had a safe that never existed. Truman Capote, as is detailed in the movie Capote, got so close to his subjects, so inside their story, that he writes the novel and projects conversations as if he were present when they took place. It’s remarkable in its style.

But the language! What really grabbed me in this reading of In Cold Blood was the extraordinary language. Here are the opening sentences of the book, “The village of Holcomb stands on the high wheat plains of western Kansas, a lonesome area that other Kansans call ‘out there.’ Some seventy miles east of the Colorado border, the countryside, with its hard blue skies and desert-clear air, has an atmosphere that is rather more Far West than Middle West.” Why doesn’t anybody write like this any more?

Oh – time well spent – re-reading Truman Capote’s non-fiction novel, In Cold Blood. On the Book Beat for KSL Newsradio, I’m Amanda Dickson.

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