Books and Bagels and Morning Book Break Book Discussions on In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder And Its Consequences by Truman Capote
Rating: In Books and Bagels, the book received ratings between 3.75 and 5.0. The average rating was 4.33.
In Morning Book Break, this book received a variety of scores between 1.0 and 4.5. The average rating was 3.27.
Review: The nonfiction novel was selected as part of a two-month combination study, along with the historical fiction novel, The Swans of Fifth Avenue. Following our group discussion, the members were asked to respond by giving their usual critique and also, respond to the following:
- Did you find reading The Swans of Fifth Avenue prior to reading In Cold Blood profitable?
- If members had previously read In Cold Blood, they were asked to compare and contrast their previous reading with this current reading.
Most members relayed that Truman Capote was indeed, a truly gifted writer. Most members would not have selected this nonfiction true crime book, but they were happy that it was a book club selection. The discussion, as always, was dynamic, insightful, and elevated the individual reading of the book.
Discussion Highlights—both groups
- Several members read In Cold Blood as teenagers and remember being quite frightened; however, rereading the books as adults, they found the text enlightening, interesting, and disturbing. Members felt over the course of their lifetimes, they have been desensitized to the portrayal of crimes. After all, today’s media constantly televises murder, terror, and violence.
- Most members found Capote’s writing to be superb, but found the read to be very slow going. Reading all the details at times was cumbersome and boring.
Discussion Highlights—Books and Bagels
- Most members found last month’s read, The Swans of Fifth Avenue to be a disappointing read, but found the information gleaned about Capote to be very useful in understanding Capote’s characterization of Perry Smith. Some members did not like the characterization of Truman Capote in The Swans of Fifth Avenue, but the information was useful.
- There was much discussion about Dick and Perry’s senseless crime. Members searched for reasons the crime was committed. In Cold Blood was a psychological investigation into the minds of these cold-blooded killers. Truman Capote amazingly achieved sympathy and compassion for these murderers.
- One member read the book straight though and found the story compelling and the writing masterful.
- Several members believe that In Cold Blood was an excellent springboard leading to a discussion about capital punishment.
- One member had read In Cold Blood in Esquire magazine in its original publication format, four installments. She commented that when she read it the first time, she did not realize the significance of the work.
Discussion Highlights—Morning Book Break
- Several members thought In Cold Blood was disturbing, but were thrilled it was chosen as a book discussion read. They thought the work was ground-breaking for 1965. The back and forth sections between the Clutters and the murders was innovative.
- Several members were reminded of the Palatine Brown’s Chicken murders and the Richard Speck murders.
- Overall, the group was not sympathetic to the killers.
- Many members found the book moved too slowly, but all agreed Truman crafted well-developed characters and the readers felt transported to Holcomb, Kansas circa 1959.
- Many members felt the book dragged, but thought reading the combination of the two books to be an excellent choice. This combination aided in the understanding of the author, his writing, and his exploration into Perry Smith’s character.
- Several members have recommended The Swans of Fifth Avenue to their friends.
- There was a fair amount of discussion surrounding the terminology: literary non-fiction, creative nonfiction, nonfiction novel, true crime book, violent fiction novel (as related to In Cold Blood).
Parts 2-4 are also available on YouTube.
Films Available for Check-Out: