In Cold Blood

On November 16, 1959, The New York Times published an account of murders, which began:

Holcomb, Kan., Nov. 15 [1959] (UPI) — A wealthy wheat farmer, his wife and their two young children were found shot to death today in their home. They had been killed by shotgun blasts at close range after being bound and gagged… There were no signs of a struggle, and nothing had been stolen. The telephone lines had been cut.
The New York Times

This article was an inspiration for Truman Capote to do extensive research and write ‘In Cold Blood’. Critics said that the book started a new genre, nonfiction novel.

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In Cold Blood, Penguin Essentials (2012)

Capote began the book with a chapter titled ‘The Last to See Them Alive’, a day before the murders happened. The chapter started with The Clutter family morning routine. Mr. Clutter’s breakfast (apple and a glass of milk), Nancy, the 17 year-old daughter, rushed down to pick up a phone call after Kenyon, her 15 year-old brother, hollered to her downstairs. A friend was coming to learn to bake cherry pie. Mrs.Clutter came downstairs for coffee.

The first few pages made me forget that this was real family and dreaded the event that would take their lives. Capote also introduced the killers, Dick and Perry, in this chapter. Detailing their activities towards the events, places they went, people they met, and things they bought to accomplish their mission.

Capote also built the story by adding more characters into it. Nancy’s best friend and boyfriend, the family’s neighbours, the town postmistress, the farmers, Mr.Clutter’s employees, Perry’s father and sister, Dick’s family, the inmates they had in the penitentiary, and also the Kansas Bureau of Investigation agents, Agent Dewey, Agent Nye, Agent Church, and Agent Duntz. Capote gathered 8000 notes in his research and it took him six years to complete the book.

All in all, this true crime, in Capote’s book, feels like a fiction. There are just too many dialogues and details that, even the facts I’m sure remain unchanged, seem too real and too detailed. Critics believed that some dialogues and events were made-up for dramatisation. However, Agent Dewey stated that most of the book was factually accurate. I haven’t read many true crime nonfictions, but one I have was written by Professor Keith Simpson, Forty Years of Murders. The book is an autobiography and reading it, I knew that I was reading a nonfiction. The facts were told in matter-of-factly way. The only thing that felt personal was the author’s point of view which, of course understandable as he was the police pathologist himself.

In contrast with Keith Simpson’s book, In Cold Blood was told in a third person point-of-view. The readers were the ghosts that hover into the Clutters homes, the murderers’ thoughts, the investigation, the hunts, the trials, the execution. We have beautiful and dreadful quotes that illustrated the brutal nature of men, the irony of life itself, and the sadness (not just the gory details) of the crime.

Just remember: If one bird carried every grain of sand, grain by grain, across the ocean, by the time he got them all on the other side, that would only be the beginning of eternity.

Imagination, of course, can open any door – turn the key and let terror walk right in.

Once a thing is set to happen, all you can do is hope it won’t. Or will-depending. As long as you live, there’s always something waiting, and even if it’s bad, and you know it’s bad, what can you do? You can’t stop living.

I thought that Mr. Clutter was a very nice gentleman. I thought so right up to the moment that I cut his throat.

In Cold Blood was not just a book that records a crime, but also brought back those who are dead. The Clutters were not just ‘the victims’ and Perry and Dick were not just ‘the murderers’. There were some chilling moments when I realised I felt sorry for their childhoods and at the same time, frightened by remarks and comments they made regarding the murders. It was a melancholy true crime nonfiction, one that was well-written.


Me and The Search Warrant

The Search Warrant was my first Modiano. I found the book on the ‘New Arrival’ display on a bookstore I often visit. Cramped between John Green’s and Rainbow Rowell’s books, Patrick Modiano’s The Search Warrant seemed out of place. And indeed, it was.

This book was first published in 1997 as Dora Bruder. How did a book published almost two decades ago got its place among the newcomers? Because it has ‘Winner of the Nobel Prize 2014 in Literature’ on the cover.


The author in the story found a notice of a missing girl in an issue of Paris Soir. The girl, is a 15 year old Jewish named Dora Bruder who ran away from a convent where her parents put her during an interim occupation by Nazi in 1940. The year is 1996 and the author determinately tracked down this girl, to know what happened to her, why she ran away, was she caught and sent to the camp? This was an impossible task but I like what he wrote about being patient

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Me and Tender is the Night

Have you ever started a book hating the characters and then by the end of it, you ended up rooting and loving them? This is how I feel about Fitzgerald’s ‘Tender is the Night’. As I pledge to read more classics, Fitzgerald is one of the authors that works I always want to read.

The book consists of three books and with each book, the story gets deeper and more revealing. It opens with a scene at a beach in South of France with a 17 year-old actress, Rosemary Hoyt. She travels with her mother and at that beach she falls in love with Dick Diver, a charismatic man in his thirties. Rosemary was charmed by not only Dick, but also his beautiful wife, Nicole. First, I dislike Rosemary for being so naive and hopelessly in love, but then as the story gets more complex, her naive love is necessary for providing a contrast between hers and Dick and Nicole’s love.


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Me and Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre is like a myth to me. Maybe like Moby Dick or Hamlet. Books or works that I hear too often and scare me because they are important piece of literature. Last year I resolved to read more notable classic literatures and since Penguin published the book and its cover is illustrated by Ruben Toledo, I decided to buy it. I thought: if I don’t like it, at least it’ll look good on my shelf.

But not only does it look good, Jane Eyre is exceptional. It begins like a Cinderella story. Jane is 10 when her mother died, she was left orphaned and she lived with her uncle, Mr.Reed and his family. In the household, only his uncle is kind to her. After he passed away, Mrs. Reed wants to get rid of Jane but she can’t because of her husband’s dying wish. So Jane has to endure abuse – mentally and physically from her aunt and her three cousins. The only one whoo is kind to her is Bessie the maid. Later, after an incident, Jane is sent to a charity school far from home. Jane is glad to be able to leave Reed’s house and – this is why I like Jane – she confronts Mrs.Reed and tells her that she will never call her ‘aunt’ again, that she hates her and her children.


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Me and A Little Life

When I picked up this book, I had no idea who Hanya Yanagihara was and what A Little Life was about. Little did I know I was picking up a book that would become my best read in 2015.

A Little Life tells a story of four best friends who come to New York from a small town in Massachusetts to make their ways. Broke and full of hopes, their first years in New York remind me of how it was like being a college student. There is handsome, kind-hearted, aspiring actor Willem, quick-witted and sometimes cruel artist JB, a young frustrated yet sensitive and talented architect Malcolm, and enigmatic, intelligent, mysterious, kind lawyer Jude, who is the centre of the group yet the most closed one.


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