All entries for Wednesday 16 May 2007
May 16, 2007
You can tell it’s exam season.
I spent far too much time yesterday debating the merits of certain fruits, in the
futile quest to find the world’s best fruit.
- The strawberry, which has been defaced by the British who try to eat it all year round from African polytunnels. The in-season, natural strawberry is still brilliant though.
- The pineapple. Again, the British tend to have no concept of what a pineapple really tastes like. We’re used to the rubbish tinned variety, although even our ‘fresh’ pineapples aren’t that great. Go to the tropics and try one – it’s hard to argue against them.
- The mango. Just like the pineapple, it’s got to be eaten in its country of origin. We pair it with apples in the UK (i.e. juice) because the ones we get are so bad and need mixing with something else.
- The banana. A divisive choice. Personally, a slightly unripe banana is fantastic, and a ripe one is horrible. Any sign of brown and it’ll get offered to someone else. Others feel completely the opposite. This fickleness is the only thing going against the banana. Otherwise it’s perfect.
- The raspberry. Not so sure on this one – I’m not a fan of the seeds, and again the supermarket ones aren’t as good.
- The blackberry. Similar problem as raspberries, except you can’t beat apple and blackberry crumble.
I’ve left out apple, which many will see as an obvious choice. I think they’re too much of a staple really. If I asked you what your favourite vegetable was, would you say ‘potato’? I don’t think so.
I think my choice would be banana or pineapple. But if there’s any trends to be made it’s that fruit from hot countries is much better than from Britain.
What do you think?
And on a complete tangent, how quickly can you guess what this video’s on about?
Obsessive is the only way to describe Truman Capote’s study of what drives a murderer to kill. In Cold Blood, follows the story of Dick Hickock, Perry Smith, and the family of four that they murdered one night in Kansas.
It’s an incredible read. The pages read like a more convincing, more psychologically accurate version of a Patricia Cornwell novel. And there’s a reason for this feeling of realism. The events Capote describes were real.
Capote apparently decided to chase the story after reading a 300-word piece in the New York Times that started:
A wealthy wheat farmer, his wife and their two young children were found shot to death today in their home. They had been killed by shotgun blasts at close range after being bound and gagged … There were no signs of a struggle, and nothing had been stolen. The telephone lines had been cut.
There was little more for Alvin Dewey, the detective sent to Holcomb, Kansas, or Capote to go on. The killers were only found because one had foolishly bragged to a fellow inmate that he intended to rob and kill the Clutter family.
Once the killers are identified, the book becomes a dissection of the relationship between the two killers, but also the relationship they had with their parents. Their plan is to escape to Mexico and search for gold. The first bit of the plan works well, the second less so. Their short cash reserves are quickly spent on prostitutes and only a dangerous return to the United States can resolve their financial difficulties.
What makes the book so incredible is the accounts that Capote manages to grasp from the key players in the story. Hickock and Smith seem to reveal every detail to him while they await execution, and even the hurt family members tell him quite personal details. All this becomes more surprising when you find that Capote infuriated the people of Holcomb, who detested the forensic examination of their already bruised community.
In Cold Blood is a brilliant book. Dripping with Capote’s obsessive streak, it becomes as much a book about the author as it does about the murder itself, but is no worse off for it.