Capote In Kansas (2005)

Capote In Kansas is a fictional account of Truman Capote’s time in Kansas working on the classic book In Cold Blood. I’ve actually never read Capote’s book, though it’s apparently a masterpiece of 20th century literature. It certainly has had a lasting impact on the world of crime writing – no book since has come close to either the visceral or emotional impact of this book.
 
Ande Parks has written Capote In Kansas to explore what it was like for Capote to journey to the country and do research on his masterpiece. See, Capote was a flaming gay man, the kind that get beat up in places like Kansas, so he really was a fish out of water there. There’s a great story in how Capote got everyone in the area to talk, from the two men who committed a horrific crime to the townsfolk who had to deal with its impact. That story has actually been written, more than once. Apparently Parks hasn’t written that story, unfortunately.
 
Parks talks in his afterword that his book is "not always an accurate reflection of the actions of those involved." He talks of wanting to break away from strictly historial works, of freeing himself from the constraints of facts.
 
That decision is a real mistake. Such an approach would be understandable if there were less information available about Capote or his work on the book, but the fact is that there is a lot of information out there. What does Parks gain from altering history? Why deliberately misrepresent perfectly verifiable facts?
 
It’s a puzzling decision, one I’m really struggling with as I try to write a review of the book for SilverBulletComicBooks. I can’t get past giving the book a poor review due to this decision. After all, fact is almost always more interesting than fiction. Why avolid fact when it only brings a reader close to subjective truth? What does Parks gain?
 
It’s especially a shame because before I started researching this subject, I was ready to give this book a rave review. Parks’s writing is wonderful – sparse and thoughtful when it needs to be. Artist Chris Samnee does a wonderful job with the story. Pretty much all the story is peoples’ reactions to each other, a real challenge for any artist. But Samnee is up to the task, doing a fine job with the work.
 
In the end, this book just makes me angry. Why do a book like Capote In Kansas if you’re just going to get the facts wrong? 
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