“She still believed what some nearly extinct tribal cultures had professed when they first saw cameras: that every photograph taken of you robbed you of a bit of your soul. And these pictures, inside and outside of the box, had taken away a large portion of hers.” 
Capote in Kansas draws on scattered events of truman Capote and Harper Lee’s childhood in Monroeville, Alabama and their reunion over two decades later in Kansas. Almost twenty five years after they conducted research on the murder of the Clutters, the best friends stop talking to each other. The novel, a fantasy that combines documented events and Powers’ imagination, seeks to answer the question of what might have caused the rift in their friendship.
It begins with Capote’s death-bed confession in the form of a phone call to Lee in the middle of the night. It’s a S.O.S. call to his friend that the ghosts of the Clutters come back to seek revenge for the human rights they lost when the murder case piqued him to write In Cold Blood. As much as the book claims to be a ghost story, this is about all the actions of the spirits. The ghosts, be they real apparitions or hallucinations, do not actually advance the plot of the novel. They revive memories of the past that the writers have banished from their thoughts.
As much of a mess Truman Capote has become—consumed by drugs and alcohol—he manages to send Harper Lee these creepy messages in cardboard boxes that demonstrate not only effort of artistry but also the burning desire to get squared. The series of sinister packages with occasional gruesome contents along with the ghost talk, rather than spooking her, lead her to question Capote’s intentions. I would go as far to assert that, being entrapped by painful memories of their meeting in Kansas, they have estranged one another. They are themselves the ghosts who linger on and have unfinished business with one another. The strength of the novel is how Powers adroitly nails the best of Harper Lee’s bitterness and insecurities because of Capote’s sabotage of her novel. What Truman had sone to her, out of his self-inflated ego, made her doubt if she actually wrote “The Book” herself.
ow could two people, once best friends, once soul mates, be so different: Nelle had published one book, and then deliberately faded into woodwork; Truman didn’t even wait for one to come out, and had already started planning the guest list.” 
Lee’s insecurity is also underpinned by her sister’s sneaking around the attic to look for proof of authorship. Why didn’t she write another book for twenty five years? The doubt that has hovered on the edge of her sister’s consciousness is exactly what Lee communicates to her dead brother in the letters. So much that the Capote in Kansas professes to be a ghost story, it’s more of a tale about friendship, regret, reconciliation and coming to terms to self. It doesn’t add to what we already know of the writers; but the well-written book, full of imaginary scenes, is still worthy of perusal.
About the author: Kim Powers is an Emmy- and Peabody-winning writer who’s worked at both ABC’s Good Morning America and Primetime. He lives in New York City. He can be reached at his website: kimpowersbooks.com
Wednesday, Oct. 1st: Bookgirl’s Nightstand
Friday, Oct. 3rd: Book Room Reviews
Monday, Oct. 6th: A Guy’s Moleskin Notebook
Wednesday, Oct. 8th: Tripping Toward Lucidity
Friday, Oct. 10th: book-a-rama
Monday, Oct. 13th: Ready When You Are, C.B.
Wednesday, Oct. 15th: Bibliolatry
Friday, Oct. 17th: Books and Movies
Monday, Oct. 20th: Booking Mama
Wednesday, Oct. 22nd: Diary of an Eccentric
Thursday, Oct. 23rd: Maw Books
Friday, Oct. 24th: Book Club Classics
Monday, Oct. 27th: Books and Cooks
Tuesday, Oct. 28th: Devourer of Books
Wednesday, Oct. 29th: Literate Housewife
Filed under: American Literature, Books, Contemporary Literature, Literature, Reading Tagged: | American Literature, Books, Capote in Kansas, Contemporary Literature, Cross Genre, Harper Lee, In Cold Blood, Kim Powers, Literature, Reading, TLC Book Tour, Truman Capote