100 in ’11: Capote, de Jour and Summers

In Cold Blood – Truman Capote

Summary: The true tale of the Clutter family murders, dramatised in novel form.

It’s an interesting concept, the nonfiction novel. It tries to be a documentary – after all, Capote covered this story as a journalist – but took this opportunity to retell it more creatively. And it’s a wrenching story. These were good people – as good people as you can get – and they were slaughtered for naught. But it’s just as dreadful to read about the grim lives led by killers Dick and Perry, inasmuch as Capote can get inside their heads. Capote has a talent for bringing characters to life, even without necessarily knowing all that much about them (he never met the Clutters, for example). It’s also clear that he identifies somewhat with Perry; he delves more deeply into his psyche, and we get a sense of his character more strongly than Dick’s.

Diary of an Unlikely Call Girl – Belle De Jour

Summary: The inner thoughts of a high-class London call girl.

Belle de Jour’s book is based on the popular anonymous blog she kept during the year and a bit that she spent as a well-paid London prostitute. Sex has obviously always been a big part of her life; for example, she falls into this line of work after being taken home by a wealthy couple for a threesome, for which they slip her, well, a little bit more than the taxi fare home. Many of her friends are men she’s had relationships with (the rather S&M details of some I’d rather not have heard), and of course, The Boy, her current flame who seems more than a little emotionally unstable. But her sharp observations of life as a sex worker are sassy and engaging. Particularly entertaining is her hooker’s A-Z, where her snarky wittiness really shines. Belle is obviously intelligent, and you will most likely be intrigued as to what she studied that failed to lead to a job. It perhaps sounds as if she was an arts graduate, but Belle de Jour is of course, actually Dr Brooke Magnanti, who is now a bit of a champion for sex workers.

Some Girls Are – Courtney Summers

Summary: The ultimate tale of high school frenemies.

There were two things I found difficult to believe. One, Regina’s name (great name for a character, but SO not a popular girl’s name). Secondly, the sheer scale of the nastiness and bullying that went on – both the meanness that Regina and Anna unleashed on those unfortunate enough to be their targets, and the vitriol and physical abuse Regina suffers at the hands of her ex-best friend once she falls from grace. You will marvel at the new hateful extremes that a teenage girl can go to in order to hurt another human being simply for the hell of it. And conversely, you’ll be heartwarmed to see the capacity for forgiveness held by the people Regina once crushed, despite having no reason to give her the time of day. This is a quick, rip-roaring read – immediate, wrenching and fast-paced.

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