Have You Read this Book ? (Plus, 7 truths about the author…)

Can we talk about Truman Capote? Because I’m finally reading this book…


after packing it around for the last five years from my apartment on St. Charles in Victoria, to my studio pad in Busan, Korea, then shipping it to Saskatchewan, where it sat in a box for about eight months before my dad drove it to Portland last November with a stockpile of other random items from my life. It’s been living on my bookshelf ever since.

Why the wait? Every time I considered starting it, I’d think it feels just so…heavy. Kind of like why I never finished “Crime and Punishment.” (One day, I’ll re-attempt Dostoyevsky. But definitely not in the depths of winter.)

In case you’re unfamiliar with “In Cold Blood,” it’s an account of the 1959 murder by two ex-convicts of a wheat farmer and his family in a small town in Kansas. It’s widely considered to be a work of art, and the first non-fiction novel ever written.

My copy actually looks like this…

In Cold Blood (1)

(lent to me by my old friend Jesse Rock), but I liked the artwork in the 2012 version above, so thought I’d share it. (Design by Megan Wilson, photograph by William Eggleston)

The time has come! I’m on page 88. As with all books, I’m as interested in the writer as I am in the story itself…so I did a little searching to learn more.

7 Truths on Truman:

~His birth name was Truman Streckfus Persons (It was changed to Capote after his stepfather, Joe Capote, adopted him)

~He spent six years researching (with a lot of help from Harper Lee) and writing “In Cold Blood,” and took over 8000 pages of notes

~New information revealed in 2013 shows that he altered some of the facts in the story, including the role of detective Alvin Dewey Jr.

~He wanted Marilyn Monroe to play Holly Golightly in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (the screen adaptation of his novella), and felt Audrey Hepburn was miscast

~In 1966 he threw a massive party called The Black and White Ball at The Plaza Hotel in New York. It was legendary. Of the guest list, Capote told Esquire, “I have always observed, in almost every situation, and I have been in almost every situation, that people tend to cling to their own types. The very rich people, for instance, tend to like the company of very rich people. The international social set likes international socialites. Writers writers, artists artists. I have thought for years that it would be interesting to bring these disparate people together and see what happens.”

~In an interview with The Paris Review in 1957, Capote said he was a “horizontal author,” and that he couldn’t think unless he was lying down, with a cigarette and coffee handy. “I’ve got to be puffing and sipping. As the afternoon wears on, I shift from coffee to mint tea to sherry to martinis.”

(He died of liver cancer in 1984. He was 59.)

Truman Capote by Irving Penn, 1965-773775

Have you read “In Cold Blood”? What’s on your reading list?

I’m working on spending more time off the laptop, book in my hands, tea in my cup. I’d love your suggestions!


p.s. An interview with Phillip Seymour Hoffman on playing Truman Capote

(Above image by Irving Penn.)


3 responses

  1. Hi Tait! I haven’t read this and will be interested to hear your thoughts on it. I am reading ‘Through Black Spruce’ by Joseph Boyden now and trying to finish it for the 21st as I am going to hear him speak in town that night. He’ll be talking about his recent book, ‘Orenda’ mostly but i want to add to my ‘Three Day Road’ knowledge of this guy. Orenda is getting rave reviews but is only in hardcover at this point. My copy, lent from a friend, of ‘Thru Black Spruce’ is hardcover and i love how much i enjoy holding this bulkier, solid bookform. I do love his narratives on first nation culture, the insidious problems that plague communities and the characters that allow us to understand on a deeper level. Happy autumnal reading Tait. xo

    • Hi Paula–Thanks for your comment! I haven’t read anything by Boyden yet, but you have peaked my interest. It took me a few chapters, but once I got into ‘In Cold Blood’ I was hooked–it’s riveting. Though last night I dreamed I was visiting someone in jail, so I think it’s taking over my brain! I definitely recommend. Happy reading to you too! :)

  2. I have both seen the old classic movies – “Breakfast at Tiffanys”, and “In Cold Blood”, as well as having read both books. Enjoyed them both tremendously have found a different tone between the movies and the books, but both were well done. I was not surprised to be reminded that T.C. passed away at 59 years of liver cancer, he lived an outrageous lifestyle. Love Mom xox

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