2015: True Crime: The New Yorker Reader

"The village of Holcomb stands on the high wheat plains of western Kansas, a lonesome area that other Kansans call "out there." Some seventy miles east of the Colorado border, the countryside, with its hard blue skies and desert-clear air, has an atmosphere that is rather more Far West than Middle West."

First lines of "In Cold Blood", by Truman Capote - from the Sept 25, 1965 issue.

True Crime: The New Yorker Reader

Now this is not technically a book, but a magazine that I picked up on a whim at Whole Foods.  But oh my lord, it was so so good.  It's just a collection of true crime pieces from the Magazine (surely I have discussed how I got hooked on New Yorker in doctor's waiting rooms after years of resisting, and now am a big old superfan.  Oh yes, I did, here.) many of which I had read before on Longreads or whatever, but I nonetheless was fascinated by each article.  Not really a dog in the bunch.

The highlight is the original "In Cold Blood" (9/25/65 issues).  I've read the book In Cold Blood at least twice, I've read a bio of Truman Capote, I've seen both Capote movies.  I'm well aware of the controversies about whether what he said was as true an accurate as it's supposed to be, or whether he stretched the facts to suit his own theories (for example, he was clearly enamored with the killers over the victims).  I'd love to read another book about the whole thing - what happened, how Capote influenced all so if you have a rec let me know.  I think I read a fiction thing about it that was so-so  (ah, yes, I did Capote in Kansas!) But I think all great true crime writing leaves you wanting more, and oh, the writing is so, so good here.  I'm not usually the kind of reader who goes on about the writing, but Capote just knocks your socks off.  The way he accumulates detail, the way he captures a person or a town or an idea in a few phrases.  It's a shame he fell to pieces and didn't get to write more like this, but we are so lucky that we got In Cold Blood.  The magazine is worth it for this piece alone, and now, damnit, I want to re-read the book again.

And it's not only that - you get Joan Didion writing about the "Spur Posse" (remember them?) but really about class in California, and the middle class dream.  And Calvin Trillian's amazing piece about Miami Herald crime reporter Edna Buchanan.  And the story of Amy Bishop, the Hunstville Alabama professer who shot up a room of people who denied her tenure - only to learn she'd murdered her own brother (maybe? might have been an accident?) years before.  And a lot, lot more.  Totally worth the $12.99 (only $8.99 if you click through the link above) if you like either true crime or the New Yorker.


© Carrie Dunsmore 2017