11 October 2015

Cologne Cathedral and “In Cold Blood”

While I was roaming around central Europe in late September, people asked me: “What unique perspectives are you finding through the European culture as you read a truly American-themed work of classic non-fiction?” The classic being referred to is Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood.

Looking back, it definitely has been a unique experience reading an American classic and traveling abroad at the same time. While I was zigzagging through Cologne, Prague and Vienna, it was hard not to be distracted by the towering medieval churches and grand imperial palaces. One day, I found myself standing inside the soaring vault ribs of the Gothic Cologne cathedral. There was a mass going on. While the ethereal organ hymns floating in the incensed air, faint sun rays filtering through the kaleidoscopic stained glasses and the priest praying and chanting in German, I could not help but thinking about Perry as I just started to read In Cold Blood that morning. I stood there for a long while, an ineffable chill running through my bones and skins. Of all the characters in Capote’s essay, Perry baffles and fascinates me most. As the light struggled to illuminate the dark dome, the hymn to sooth the pilgrim’s guilt, I thought about Perry’s many outward and inward contradictions. I have not finished reading the whole the book yet, but I think there is a timeless theme about the battle between good and evil, and questions regarding mankind’s potential for evil.

Here is the first part of the book that got me hooked:

Article: In Cold Blood: The Last to See Them Alive
Truman Capote’s 1965 article, which preceded the publication of the book In Cold Blood, is frequently cited as the first work of new journalism, a subgenre of creative nonfiction that combines the content of journalism with the art of storytelling.

Happy reading.