On this date in 1965, Richard Hickock and Perry Smith were executed by the state of Kansas for the murder of four members of the Clutter family of Holcomb, Kansas. The murderers and their crime were the subjects of Truman Capote’s (1924-1984) groundbreaking nonfiction novel In Cold Blood, published in 1966.
Capote read about the murders in the New York Times in 1959. Intrigued by the story, he traveled to the small farming community of Holcomb with his childhood friend and fellow author Harper Lee, the author of To Kill A Mockingbird.
With the help of Lee, Capote spent six years researching and writing the book, which was finally published in 1966.
In Cold Blood is seen today as a pioneering work of the true crime genre. The book fits into a larger literary genre of the non-fiction novel, a work that blends historical figures and actual events with fictitious dialogue and storytelling techniques. The genre is sometimes referred to a “faction,” a blend of the words fact and fiction (1).
The title of Capote’s book is a prepositional phrase, a phrase that begins with a preposition (“in”) and ends with a noun (“blood”).
Prepositional phrases are the most frequently used phrases in the English language. They are never the subject of a sentence, but they always provide additional details.
Here are some other examples of prepositions used in other book titles:
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
One Hundred Years of Solitude
The Grapes of Wrath
Of Mice and Men
All Quiet on the Western Front
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Much Ado About Nothing
Today’s Challenge: Prepositional Pitches
What are some examples of titles of great books or movies that do not contain propositions? Brainstorm a list of at least 10 titles of books or films that do not contain prepositions. Then, imagine you were going to re-title the book or movie. Create at least five new titles for five different works, and make sure that each title contains at least one preposition.
Hamlet – Something Is Rotten in the State of Denmark
Romeo and Juliet – Teenage Tragedy in Verona
Macbeth – Something Wicked in Scotland
Jaws – Summer of Sharks
Apocalypse Now – The Quest For Kurtz
Quotation of the Day: Writing has laws of perspective, of light and shade just as painting does, or music. If you are born knowing them, fine. If not, learn them. Then rearrange the rules to suit yourself. -Truman Capote