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Truman Capote and the True Crime Narrative

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Truman Capote wants to write an epic non-fiction which is more and more in vogue now and tries to achieve a synthesis between myth and event and it is "In Cold Blood" that Truman Capote replaces pure fantasy with fact. The story is about a mass murder by two psychopaths in a small town in Kansas and his narrative helps to inaugurate the style for non-fiction novel. His style of mixing hybrid non-fiction and prose is very much imitated by journalists and other authors and is the forerunner of the New Journalism movement.

The book is about the slaying of a wealthy farmer, his wife and his two children in Holcomb, Kansas. When he hears of the quadruple murder of the Clutter family, he travels to Kansas with his childhood friend and fellow author, Harper Lee.

Together they interview local residents and investigators and the killers, Richard "Dick" Hickock and Perry Smith, are arrested not long after the murders, and Capote ultimately spends six years working on the book. Capote does a large amount of research for this work and once the criminals are found, tried and convicted, Capote holds personal interviews with Smith and Hickock. Smith fascinates the author especially and in his book he describes him as the one who is more sensitive and guilt conscious of the two killers. Capote never takes notes while interviewing but writes from memory. Besides he compares "the system of appeals" of the American jurisprudence to a game of chance. In his book the participants go from state courts through Federal courts interminably to reach ultimately the US Supreme Court. Capote criticizes the ways and means by which a trial narrative is produced which is later seen in Norman Mailer's "The Executioner's Song".

Thus "In Cold Blood" gets published in 1966 as a "non-fiction novel" as Capote puts it in his own words. It brings him fame and literary acclaim and it becomes an international bestseller. Though it is considered as a controversial work and a fakery by some true crime writers, it paves the way for future journalists and writers of true life stories and establishes Capote as the pioneer of the non-fiction novels of the present day.

Source by Genny Rassendren

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