Get ready for the biggest understatement of this year…* drum roll*…I haven’t posted on my blog. And I will provide my wonderful friends of the blogosphere with the same excuse—I’ve been busy with school and work. Thankfully, I will be graduating soon and that excuse will not work anymore; check my blog this weekend and hopefully I will have some nice photos to prove it!
Anyways, even though I was busy writing A Comprehensive Editing Analysis for my Professional Editing class, a A Linguistic Comparison of Arabic and English for my Introduction to Language class, and recording video projects for both of my Arabic classes (2001, 2002), I was able to read a few books on the side: Truman Capote‘s In Cold Blood, which is considered by some to be the first non-fiction novel.
Truman Capote has reconstructed the four lives of the Clutter family, who were murdered by Richard Hickock and Perry Smith. Though, because of this book, they will live on forever. Typically non-fiction of this genre is more reporting-based and boring, but Capote has brought new life to it with creative language and bit of this imagination—who knows if everything he said about the family actually happened? Kenyon, the son in the Clutter tragedy, may have had a truck that he called the coyote wagon, but did he actually chase coyotes in it? “The wagon skidding across the sand, the fleeing coyotes framed again the moon—as Bob [Kenyon’s father and another victim] said, it sure made your heart hurt” (39). Ethics plays a interesting role in this book, given more light in the film Capote.
I felt a connection to the character of Perry Smith because of the way that Capote describes his life, a hard one in which he was beaten in an orphanage and never given a proper education. Despite his upbringing, he had a sensitive personality and was very intelligent. From his jail cell he watches cats searching the parked cars outside for dead birds caught in the grilles. Perry says, “Because most of my life I’ve done what they’re doing. The equivalent” (264). Perry enjoys poetry and describes death row as “deep underwater (320)”—and Capote suggests this is because “the Row usually was as gray and quiet as ocean depths, soundless except for snores, coughs, the whisper of slippered feet, the feathery racket of the pigeons nesting in the prison walls” (320-321). A poetic man with a troubled past that in any other circumstances may have become the underdog that finally has his day, but not in this story. Perry Smith, along with Richard, killed four people in Kansas and he hung for his crimes.
Perry Smith also said, “Why? Soldiers don’t lose much sleep. They murder, and get medals for doing it” (291). Now I don’t know if Perry Smith was mentally unstable and I know he had a messed up childhood, but I would agree. The men and women in our military that operate drone strikes that kill innocent civilians are just as murderous. Today’s soldiers are unable to bear witness to what they’re doing, that they too kill in cold blood.