In Cold Blood, half a century on

From The Guardian:

Fifty years ago, Holcomb, Kansas was devastated by the slaughter of a local family. And then Truman Capote arrived in town .

Truman-Capote-in-the-livi-001 River Valley farm stands at the end of an earth road leading out of Holcomb, a small town on the western edge of Kansas. You can see its pretty white gabled roof floating above a sea of corn stubble. The house is famous for the elm trees which line the drive, giving it the tranquil air of a French country lane. The trees are in poor shape though, and desperately in need of pruning; their branches, leafless now, protrude at wild angles. There's something else not quite right about the setting. There is a large “stop” sign at the entrance to the road, backed up by a metal barrier and a hand-written poster in red paint proclaiming: “No Trespassing. Private Drive.” The warnings seem belligerent for such a peaceful spot. The explanation for these warnings lies about half a mile away in Holcomb's local park. A memorial plaque was unveiled there two months ago in honour of the former occupants of River Valley farm: the Clutter family, who lived in that house at the end of the elm drive until one tragic night half a century ago. The plaque carries a lengthy eulogy to the family, recording the many accomplishments of the father, Herb Clutter, and telling us that the family's leisure activities included “entertaining friends, enjoying picnics in the summer and participating in school and church events”.

Towards the end of the inscription it says that Herb, his wife Bonnie, and two of his four children Nancy and Kenyon, “were killed November 15 1959 by intruders who entered their home with the intent of robbery”. That is a very minimalist way of describing a multiple murder that devastated the town of Holcomb, inspired one of the great books of American 20th-century literature and spawned a stack of Hollywood films on that fateful night exactly 50 years ago this Sunday.

More here.