“‘Am I sorry? If that’s what you mean – I’m not. I don’t feel anything about it. I wish I did. But nothing about it bothers me a bit. Half an hour
after it happened, Dick was making jokes and I was laughing at them. Maybe we’re not human. I’m human enough to feel sorry for myself.”
1967 May 12 LIFE Magazine – Truman Capote – In Cold Blood Cover – Truman Capote stands between actors who play
killers in movie of his book. “In Cold Blood” is filmed on scene of the crime – nightmare revisited in Holcomb, Kansas.
The Story Behind a Nonfiction Novel (Truman Capote presents his own views on the case)
You never used a tape-recorder?
Twelve years ago I began to train myself, for the purpose of this sort of book, to transcribe conversation without using a tape-recorder. I did it by having a friend read passages from a book, and then later I’d write them down to see how close I could come to the original. I had a natural facility for it, but after doing these exercises for a year and a half, for a couple of hours a day, I could get within 95 percent of absolute accuracy, which is as close as you need. I felt it was essential. Even note-taking artificializes the atmosphere of an interview, or a scene-in- progress; it interferes with the communication between author and subject–the latter is usually self-conscious or an untrusting wariness is induced. Certainly, a tape-recorder does so. Not long ago, a French literary critic turned up with a tape-recorder. I don’t like them, as I say, but I agreed to its use. In the middle of the interview it broke down. The French literary critic was desperately unhappy. He didn’t know what to do. I said, “Well, let’s just go on as if nothing had happened.” He said, “It’s not the same. I’m not accustomed to listen to what you’re saying.”
How did the two accept being used as subjects for a book?
They had no idea what I was going to do. Well, of course, at the end they did. Perry was always asking me: Why are you writing this book? What is it supposed to mean? I don’t understand why you’re doing it. Tell me in one sentence why you want to do it. So I would say that it didn’t have anything to do with changing the readers’ opinion about anything, nor did I have any moral reasons worthy of calling them such–it was just that I had a strictly aesthetic theory about creating a book which could result in a work of art. “That’s really the truth, Perry,” I’d tell him, and Perry would say, “A work of art, a work of art,” and then he’d laugh and say, “What an irony, what an irony.” I’d ask what he meant, and he’d tell me that all he ever wanted to do in his life was to produce a work of art. “That’s all I ever wanted in my whole life,” he said. “And now, what was happened? An incredible situation where I kill four people, and you’re going to produce a work of art.” Well, I’d have to agree with him. It was a pretty ironic situation.