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Review – Capote in Kansas: A Ghost Story

October 10, 2008

Capote in Kansas: A Ghost Story by Kim Powers is a fictional account of the relationship between Truman Capote and Harper Lee.  The book opens over twenty years after the publication of In Cold Blood with Truman being haunted by the ghost of Nancy Clutter.  Even though he hadn’t spoken to Nelle (Harper Lee) in twenty years, he calls her in the middle of the night.  From there, the book explores their relationship from childhood to Truman’s death.  It also delves into the affect writing and researching the book In Cold Blood had on their relationship and on them individually. At one point, Nelle wondered, “What had happened to them in Kansas?  Had those murders so sapped them they didn’t have anything left over to put on the page?” Capote in Kansas also examines the controversy surrounding the authorship of To Kill a Mockingbird.

Of course, this is a work of fiction.  In an author’s note at the back of the book, Kim Powers explains how he came to write the book and the research he undertook in preparation for writing it.  So, while this book is fiction, much of it is based on real events.  The thoughts and emotions of the characters are all imagined, though.

I am a fan of both Truman Capote and Harper Lee and their writing, so I found this to be a fascinating, page-turning read.  I do wonder if someone who is unfamiliar with them would enjoy the book as much as I did.  You can read the first chapter here.  A big thank you goes to the author for sending me this book.

20 Comments leave one →
  1. October 10, 2008 7:56 am

    Kathy, I’m not familiar with Truman Capote, but am a huge Harper Lee fan. This book sounds intriguing, with its mix of delving into Capote and Lee and the whole murders in KS thing. Great review.

  2. October 10, 2008 8:34 am

    I totally agree with you about Truman Capote and Harper Lee. What an interesting idea for a book.

  3. October 10, 2008 10:13 am

    I think yours is the third review I have read of this book recently. I admit to being a little reluctant to read it–fictional stories based on real life people don’t always come off well. This one sounds like it does though. I’ll have to give it more serious consideration. Thank you for your great review.

  4. October 10, 2008 10:23 am

    I like the premise of this book, but I wonder how hard it was for the author to write about Harper Lee. Isn’t she still alive? I would feel awkward writing about a real person who is alive; what if they do not like the book or are upset by it…even though it is fiction?

  5. October 10, 2008 10:31 am

    Harper Lee is alive and I did wonder how she felt about the book. As far as I know, she had no input nor any reaction to the book. She chooses to live a very private life.

  6. October 10, 2008 10:50 am

    I really enjoyed In Cold Blood which is sort of weird to say due to its subject matter. It was just so well written. Can’t say enough about Harper Lee either.

    Oh my.. this will have to be added to my TBR list too. I will never get through my list!

  7. stacybuckeye permalink
    October 10, 2008 11:21 am

    Sounds good. I also think it would be weird/difficult writing about a living person in a not so truthful way. The relationship between the two has always been intriguing.

  8. October 10, 2008 11:36 am

    I am a fan of both so will def. seek this out. Thanks!

  9. October 10, 2008 12:55 pm

    I’ve never read any Capote. I’m ashamed 😦 Someday, though – this sounds interesting if you’re a fan 🙂

  10. October 10, 2008 2:15 pm

    I’ve never read any Capote, either, although I got all the way to the front of the queue for one of his books . . . and had to pass it up because I was out of points at PBS. I should just give in and buy the darned thing.

    This is a book that seems to be all over the blog world, but your review is the first I’ve stopped to read (because you mentioned ghosts) and now I’m eager to find a copy. Troublemaker. 😉

  11. October 10, 2008 2:33 pm

    wasn’t there a movie that discussed their relationship too…Sandra Bullock played Harper…I have no idea what it was.

  12. October 10, 2008 3:46 pm

    Kathy, this is a great review! You will soon find out about how someone unfamiliar with the authors will like the book. I have seen To Kill a Mockingbird, but I can’t remember if I ever read it or not. I just bought In Cold Blood hoping to get to it in time, but no dice. I really am hoping to enjoy it, though. I love the concept and it’s gotten really good reviews thus far.

  13. October 10, 2008 4:43 pm

    I’ve read both *In Cold Blood* and *To Kill a Mockingbird*, but don’t know a lot about Capote and Lee outside these works. I didn’t even realize they had a relationship until I started reading reviews about *Capote in Kansas* … thanks for the “heads up”.

  14. October 10, 2008 7:28 pm

    Off topic here, Kathy, but I’m glad you received the cookbook. I love anything almond so that cake looked good to me, too!

  15. October 10, 2008 11:07 pm

    This sounds like an interesting book…very different! I haven’t read any of Capote’s books but am a fan of Harper Lee. I wonder if you would enjoy the book more being a fan of Capote?

  16. bookroomreviews permalink
    October 11, 2008 7:37 pm

    I agree that only people familar with Capote and Lee would enjoy this one. I really liked it too. It made me want to read their biographies.

  17. October 12, 2008 3:08 pm

    I haven’t read either of these authors, but I enjoyed the book. The book was dark and eccentric, so it was obvious that I would like it. 😉 I’ll be blogging about this book on the 22nd for TLC Book Tours.

  18. October 13, 2008 4:26 am

    I’ve never read Capote either and while I have read To Kill a Mockingbird, that was so long ago that I don’t remember it properly. I am curious to see if I would enjoy this book. It sounds fascinating!

  19. October 14, 2008 8:59 am

    Very interesting. I’ll have to check this one out. I’m including a vignette about Harper Lee in my next novel and I love reading anything about her life. Thanks for posting the first chapter. 🙂

  20. Barbi Oslakovic permalink
    July 30, 2013 12:12 am

    I am currently reading Capote in Kansas by Kim Powers. I have become so fascinated with Capote’s relationship with Harper Lee that I find myself putting the book down often to google pictures of them. I have read a few of Capote’s books and To Kill a Mockingbird, but will read both again soon. I would have loved a sequel to Mockingbird, but I didn’t realize how Harper Lee was hounded by fans to do so. The book does make the reader wonder how Harper Lee could have tolerated Capote, not only as a peer, but he was such a self-involved child, too. It seems that imagination was their strong tie to one another. I am confused regarding Capote’s book in the story. Was the tell all on society women published? If Harper Lee truly feels about her fans(the over the top fans, rather) as the book insinuates I would gladly stand guard for her. She is gifted in a way I will always envy. Her writing is so much better than Capote’s that I can’t understand anyone seeing similarities and the rumors continuing regarding his help with her novel.

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