donderdag 29 januari 2015

R.I.P. Perry (from Capote's In Cold Blood)

R.I.P. Perry (from Capote's In Cold Blood)

I haven't finished Capote's In Cold Blood yet, but I really want to write the following already.

I didn't think this book would be an easy read, but still... I'm devastated. The depths to which I feel sorry for Perry, one of the two killers, run deeper than I could have imagined. I cry for Perry, but it brings no relief, I'm not just sad for him: I'm depressed.

It seems weird I'm even more sympathetic towards Perry than the Clutter family he's helped kill. I've come up with two explanation for this. The family that Perry and his partner in crime Dick killed, the Clutters, never stood a chance. Reading the book after 60 years makes their fate seem even more unavoidable. This detective in the book, Dewey, actually ends up feeling the same way: they might as well have been struck by lightning. For Perry, on the other hand, I imagine there's been so many moments in which his life could have taken a turn for the better: if only the nuns hadn't beat him for peeing his bed as a kid; if only his dad had let him attend go to school, instead of using him for cheap labor. And these are merely some things he complains about: he's experienced a lot of misfortune he maybe didn't even consciously take notice of. Whatever happened, after a "mean and lonely live" he didn't end up with friends and family that love him, things everybody deserves.

The other reason for feeling sympathetic towards Perry is just the way the book is written: we spend quite some time and pages with Perry (more than with the other killer, Dick), and because the book is well written, we get to share his hopes and dreams. The Clutters we get to know pretty intimately as well and I do feel really sorry for them (most of all for the genuinely sweet teenage kids), but we know from the start they're doomed.

Perry is nice and a gentle and creative soul. He's those things as well as a cold blooded murderer. That's the amazing paradox that In Cold Blood is about.

That's all I really needed to write. But I suppose I should try for some conclusion and closure: it's not hard to understand why In Cold Blood is a controversial book; it's hard to admit murderers are the victim of their crime as well.

Rest in peace Perry Smith, and Dick Hickock as well.