Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Capote and The Boy in the Closet

 Unless you’re in school, rarely do you take time to read books that you don’t take pleasure in reading. 
For instance, I tried picking up a book I read in University (but didn't finish),  that I didn’t like originally, thinking ‘now that I’m older maybe I’ll appreciate it: maybe I’ll appreciate it because (1) its about slavery, therefore it must be good my liberal/commie sentiments told me; and, (2) it won the Man Booker Prize.  I have this naive belief that every book that wins the Man Booker Prize has got to be good.
I was wrong on both accounts and I’ve vowed never again to make an attempt to read Barry Unsworth’s Sacred Hunger , regardless of my age.  In fact, I donated the book to the Winnipeg Public Library, secretly slipping it into their return shoot in order that I never make another attempt to read the book again.
The last few books I read have been quite compelling and, in short, good reads:
In Cold Blood:
A True Account of a Multiple
Murder and Its Consequences
(by Truman Capote)
Originally, I had no interested in reading this book and the only reason I picked it up was because someone selected it for the book club I’m in; therefore, I was compelled to read it.
Picking up and starting In Cold Blood was hard, but reading and finishing it was not difficult at all.
Given some research I did, I now understand why In Cold Blood is considered a classic:
 It’s a classic not only because it's well written and suspenseful (even though you know the outcome), but also because the book fathered (or mothered) a new genre of literature called the New Journalism.  Joan Didion, an author I discovered on accident and love, is a daughter of this genre (or maybe she’s an aunt?).  Norman Mailer’s The Executioner’s Song and Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream are definitely sons of this genre (the New Journalism).  That being noted, I think it is fair to say that the New Journalism is now old (maybe even old fashioned).   This begs the question, do 'blogs' fall under the umbrella of the New Journalism (and therefore fashionable again)?

Sarah's Key
(by Tatiana de Rosney)
Similar to Capote’s In Cold Blood, there are two storylines in Sarah's Key.  And similar to Capote’s In Cold Blood both storylines in Sarah’s Key are equally fascinating.
Storyline 1:  It’s 1942 and Paris, France is occupied by the Nazis. 
Storyline 2:  It’s 2002, Paris, France and an expatriate journalist (from the USA) is investigating the occupation.
Storyline 1:  French Jews are rounded-up, not by the Nazis, but by the French authorities and a child is left behind.
Storyline 2:  The journalist discovers that her husband’s family is connected to the 1942 round-up (of French Jews).
One reviewer compared Tatiana de Rosnay’s Sarah’s Key to William Styron’s Sophie’s Choice (which I tried to read, but couldn’t finish). 
 When I’m older, I think I’ll try picking up Sophie’s Choice again and see what happens; maybe, I'll appreciate it more as an older adult. 

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