Talkin' trash to the garbage around me.

16 December, 2007

I really do get around to trying out your recommendations

Some seventeen years ago, I was enrolled in an AP American Literature class as a high school junior. As part of the curriculum, we had to do a "Major Author" assignment, which basically boiled down to getting familiar with (as the name would imply) an important literary figure in American history and writing a major research paper. I, in an act which in retrospect seems to have cast the die for what followed in my life, chose Ken Kesey on the basis of having recently seen One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

My high school sweetheart had picked Truman Capote. After breezing through some of his fiction, she picked up In Cold Blood, a book which absolutely chilled her and which she begged me to read. I resisted at the time, having been bitten by the Sixties counter-cultural bug which propelled me along a divergent literary road.

I finally read Capote's masterpiece over the last five days on the basis of another recommendation from my current sweetheart, and now I find myself wishing that I had read it sooner. The true-life tale of sociopathy, told with such a clarity that the golden wheatfields of autumn in western Kansas are vividly seen in the mind's eye, is a remarkable examination of both humanity and savagery. Capote is sympathetic to everyone tangled in the web of events that culminated in the senseless murders of the evening of November 15, 1959, refusing to indulge in the black-and-white caricatures good and evil, while simultaneously unflinching in his depiction cold-hearted barbarism. That such kindness and cruelty can so easily co-exist is the central tension of the narrative, and in lesser hands, this story could have easily been dismissed as an exercise in apologetics for the accused.

After putting it off for the better part of two decades, I have to now completely recommend this to those of you who've yet to read it. And if it's been awhile since you've read it, I think it bears picking up again. And also, please note that I do eventually follow-up on looking in to items you recommend.

I just have to run them through ms. wobs first.

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