Saturday, December 6, 2008

Review: Capote in Kansas by Kim Powers

I have a small predilection for all things Capotean. (Is that a word? It is now.) I've read all the books about/by him I could find and seen at least three movies about In Cold Blood. I wrote a long paper on him last year. He just fascinates me. So I was understandably excited about reading this novel, a fictional account that focuses on his relationship to Nelle Harper Lee.

I was a little disappointed, honestly. It wasn't a bad book, it just wasn't as good as it could have been. The first half seemed like just a list of historical events, without much fiction to keep it interesting, and then the second half seemed mostly fiction without many facts to ground it. Powers warns in his author's note that he has long been preoccupied by the wonders of Capote and Lee, and it's apparent that this book is an ode to his preoccupation.

Truman and Nelle are done very well. They match the images I have of those two authors almost exactly... unfortunately that's not such a good thing. Nothing in the book made me consider them in any new light. The same goes for the storyline and events. The most interesting things are the things that can be found in any biography, and no new food for thought is presented.

This might do well as an introduction to the subject, or a summary or general reminder. The facts are mostly straight and it isn't a chore to read. But I would recommend reading the real novels and biographies. Why go to a secondary or tertiary source when the primaries and secondaries are incredible in their own right?

Buy Capote in Kansas


  1. Good review. Have you ever read 'Mockingbird,' the biography of Lee? Lots of childhood Capote stuff in that one. :)

  2. Thank you for leaving a comment on my blog! I have checked out some of your reviews and the links from your blog. Keep it up!


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