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In Cold Blood Return to Timeline
In Cold Blood
IN COLD BLOOD, by Truman Capote
With the 1965 publication of IN COLD BLOOD: A TRUE ACCOUNT OF A MULTIPLE MURDER AND ITS CONSEQUENCES, author Truman Capote declared the foundation of a new literary medium. "It seemed to me that journalism, reportage, could be forced to yield a serious new art form: the 'nonfiction novel,' as I thought of it," he said the following year. It would soon be recognized as one of the seminal works of the so-called New Journalism. The book, at least nominally adhering to the factual standards of professional reportage, details the real-life murders of a Kansas farm family, the Clutters: husband and wife, teenaged son and daughter. But it possesses many of the literary attributes traditionally associated with the novel: rhetorical style, dramatic structure, narrative tone, and, perhaps most of all, the development of psychologically vivid characters. The book's two central figures are the murderers, Richard Eugene Hickock and Perry Edward Smith. In truth, Capote was hardly the first author to merge fictive technique with journalistic effort, but perhaps no one before had ever brought readers into more intimate contact with and understanding of the minds of such destructive men. While Capote's fidelity to fact has been widely called into question, IN COLD BLOOD remains a most compelling and convincing investigation of human corruption. It confronts us with the disturbing fact of evil: no matter how alien it may seem from a distance, its elements become increasingly familiar the closer one looks.

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The American Novel