In Cold Blood & Capote – Or why you should never trust a writer…

Welcome to season 2 of The Frankenpod in which we will be looking at Truman Capote and his “literary non-fiction” novel In Cold Blood (1966).

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The media that we focused on included;

  1. The 1966 novel In Cold Blood: A true account of a multiple murder and its consequences by Truman Capote.
  2.  The 2005 film Capote directed by Bennett Miller and starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman in the title role.
  3. The 2011 collection of critical essays Truman Capote and the Legacy of In Cold Blood by Ralph F. Voss.
  4. The 1967 film In Cold Blood directed by Richard Brooks and starring Robert Blake as Perry Smith and Scott Wilson as Dick Hickcock.

In this episode, we touch on some aspects of the real events surrounding the murder of a ‘nice family’ from Kansas by two complex and dangerous men who have been recently paroled and believed that the father, Herb Clutter, kept a large amount of cash in a safe in the home. No such safe existed. We don’t go into great detail so if you are looking for a more comprehensive look into the murders of the Clutter’s I would suggest the In Sight Podcast episode on the case.

In Cold Blood was the last book ever written by Truman Capote and was first published in 1965 as a four-part series for the New Yorker and was published as a novel in 1966. Capote was an acclaimed writer of fiction and perhaps his most famous book after In Cold Blood was Breakfast at Tiffany’s. He was controversial largely due to his flamboyant self promotion and the brutal confronting honesty of his prose. Truman Capote promoted the book as an entirely new genre of book, the “literary non-fiction” novel. But it didn’t come out of nowhere, these things seldom do, historical fiction and non-fiction accounts that embellish and twist the truth to suit the author’s needs have existed for centuries. He claimed that In Cold Blood was an accurate account based on years of correspondence and investigation into the horrific murders of the Clutter family and Capote certainly spent an enormous amount of time researching and interviewing those involved. The issue that many critics have with the book is Capote’s embellishment and manipulation of the truth, often including scenes and quotes in the novel that never happened. Another contentious issue was Capote’s obvious attachment to one of the convicted men, Perry Smith and his story was given primacy when many thought that the book should have focused more on the victims and the impact the crimes had on others.

The efficacy of the creation of In Cold Blood and the scandal that surrounds it is almost as interesting, if not more so than the book itself as evidenced by films like Capote and the critical work of Voss. After the film adaptation of Breakfast at Tiffany’s Capote was determined to exercise more creative control over the film of In Cold Blood and the director Richard Brooks worked with him to create a beautifully shot if the somewhat narratively choppy film that they were both happy with.

 

 

  • Brooks, Richard, 1912- & Blake, Robert, 1933- & Wilson, Scott, 1942- & Capote, Truman, 1924-. In cold blood & Columbia Pictures et al. 2003, Truman Capote’s In cold blood, Widescreen ed, Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment, Culver City, CA
  • Capote, Truman 2000, In cold blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences, Penguin, London.
  • Miller, Bennett, (film director.) & Baron, Caroline, (film producer.) & Vince, William, (film producer.) & Ohoven, Michael, (film producer.) & Futterman, Dan, 1967-, (screenwriter.) et al. 2006, Capote, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Culver City, California
  • Voss, Ralph F & ProQuest (Firm) 2011, Truman Capote and the legacy of In cold blood, University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa.
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Four Days to Go!

It’s 2pm Australian Eastern Daylight savings time on the 27th of October 2018 which means The Frankenpod season two starts in just four days on the 31st of October!

Halloween Spppooooookyyy.

Not really intentional it just seemed as good a time as any.

We have some amazing episodes coming with Melissa of The Brook Reading podcast on a particularly divisive and controversial book and I don my tinfoil hat with the ladies of Wives Tales to talk about a cinematic adaptation of one of the most popular conspiracies based novels of the 20th Century.

But for the first episode of season two Brent and I tackle a little true crime by examining a masterpiece of “literary non-fiction”, some of the controversies surrounding it and it’s cinematic adaptations.

We’ve recorded a short promo just to keep everyone in the loop and you can find the initial relaunch blog post here.

If you want a bit of a refresher on what we define as gothic you can find our introduction to gothic literature here and we will be updating this definition soon to include some of the things we have learnt along the way. There is also our everything is gothic unless it’s not and then it’s something else which might be useful if you are looking for more specific information about what we include as part of the gothic genre.

This season we will be featuring creepy stories submitted by listeners and some classic gothic short stories you may not have heard before. It doesn’t have to be frightening, it doesn’t have to be dramatic, just a little something that can be read in 5 minutes. If you like you can send it to us as the text for us to read or you can read it yourself and send us an audio file. If writing isn’t your thing we are also happy to accept music.

Make sure you let us know if you want us to promote your project, podcast, writing or anything. It is literally the least we could do.

If you want to come on the podcast and have a chat about your favourite gothic book, movie, television show, graphic novel, poem, character or author you can email us at thefrankenpod@gmail.com.

We can’t wait to be back!

http://thefrankenpod.libsyn.com/season-2-starts-on-the-31st-of-october

 

Promo Music: Swing Gitane by The Underscore Orkestra is licensed under a Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Image: A digitized image of the original painting American Gothic that Grant Wood, a master artist of the twentieth century, created in 1930 and sold to the Art Institute of Chicago in November of the same year.

The Devil’s Dictionary

Today we are going to dabble in The Devil’s Dictionary. 

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20180731_220458_0001-1598354645.pngThe first English dictionary is commonly thought to be compiled in 1755 by Dr Samuel Johnson of Blackadder fame. But that’s not really true. There were plenty of dictionaries before him. The most accurate guess at the earliest English language dictionary was one written by Robert Cawdrey in 1604 which was the first to include definitions albeit of only 2 thousand four hundred and 99 words. Put in contrast the Oxford English dictionary today has over 170 thousand words. The key difference between Dr Johnson’s dictionaries and the ones who came before him was the number of definitions and the level organisation.

Johnson dedicated his life to lexicography and died in 1784. 83 years later Ambrose Bierce, a writer of excellent gothic and supernatural short stories embarked on the serialised satirical exploration of the dictionary. Some of these definitions popped up in his weekly columns in ‘Town Crier’ and ‘Prattle’ and also in his personal letters. He wasn’t the first to take on the idea of a satirical dictionary, but Bierce certainly was dedicated to building and collating his own glossary of irreverent definitions.

Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce was born June 24th 1842, in an Ohio settlement called Horsecave. One of 13, all beginning with the letter A. Marcus Aurelius Bierce (1799–1876) and Laura Sherwood Bierce Had 13 kids named Abigail, Amelia, Ann, Addison, Aurelius, Augustus, Almeda, Andrew, Albert, and Ambrose… and that’s how you make sure one of your kids is going to write some kind of dictionary. It just so happened that this particular kid was a bit of a smart arse as he grew up.

As a kid, he was a printer’s devil, which is a little guy who mixes ink and generally getting things to the printer as quickly as possible because of those printing presses and typesetting dealies technical term, are massive and complex. He was 15 at this point and the printing operation he worked at was for an abolitionist paper called the Northern Indian

I’m terrified of delving into military history as always so here are the bare bones facts that we need from Bierce’s military service:

He fought in the Union army from the age of 18 until 24

He sustained a pretty serious head injury and some serious psychological damage

He saw some shit and it definitely had an impact on his writing. The horror of war was something he would come back to multiple times during his time as a writer.

He got married and had 3 kids. The marriage came to an end when he discovered letters to his wife Molly from an admirer, the separated in 1888, but did not divorce until 1904, 16 years later. She died the next year. His 3 kids were 2 boys, Day and Leigh and a daughter named Helen. Day and Leigh both died as young men, Day duel a romantic rejection and Leigh’s alcoholism and a nasty bout of pneumonia got the better of him in 1901. So by 1905 it Helen was Ambrose’s only surviving child.

Ambrose is typically framed as a Soldier, Journalist, writer and hardened cynic.

We will be revisiting Bierce’s amazing short stories at some point and there is an earlier episode of the Frankenpod which is just me reading A Vine on a House which is one of Bierce’s shorter stories. He is one of the wittiest, creepy and concise writers of American gothic fiction. He had a misadventure in Mining getting involved as a manager without experience and at the end of the mining boom so that didn’t go well.

Bierce at the age of 71 went to Mexico while it was in the middle of a revolution. He joined one of the armies as an observer, the army of Pancho Villa. The last known correspondence was from Chihuahua in Mexico and then poof! He vanished!

And that, in very broad strokes is the life of Ambrose Bierce, and if anyone knows a lot more about Mr Bierce and would like to come on the podcast I’d love to talk to you!

Three things you need to know about The Devil’s Dictionary

  1. It is intensely self-indulgent
  2. It is quite misogynist
  3. It is incredibly racist.

Particularly when it comes to Native Americans and Aboriginal people.

Thanks to the U.S. Army Jazz by for making the song Kelli’s no. available in the public domain.

Promo from Not another X Files Podcast

 

Richard March’s The Beetle with Olivia from What’sHerName Podcast

This blog post accompanies The FrankenPod episode Unpleasant Odours released on Saturday the 14th of July 2018.

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I was lucky enough to be joined by Olivia of the women’s history podcast What’sHerName which draws attention to stories of women who get consistently overlooked. Olivia teaches women’s studies and also has a website on travelling with small children called Around the World in 80 Diapers,

We discussed the often overlooked novel by Richard Marsh, The Beetle. The Beetle was published in 1897, the same year as Dracula and outsold it six times over. Bram Stoker’s Dracula would go on to be adapted, studied and re-imagined throughout the 20th century, whereas The Beetle has been almost lost, like all but a few of Richard Marsh’s 80 pieces of fiction.

The Beetle explores colonialism, politics, religion, gender, race and human exceptionalism. At its core, it is a deeply visceral gothic horror that defies many conventions of Victorian and gothic literature.

The story is told in 4 testimonies, one from Robert Holt a man used as a slave of a character called the Arab who is bent on destroying the life of a quite gifted and liberal politician called Paul Lessingham, the second testimony is from a rival of Paul Lessingham, who is also vying for the affections of his soon to be fiance, Majorie Lindon, the third testimony is from Majori Lindon herself and the final is from a detective called Augustus Champnell who is pulling the whole mystery together.

For more listen to The FrankenPod

*Insert Bad Haircut Joke Here* The String of Pearls (1846) and Sweeney Todd (2007)

This week we looked at the story of Sweeney Todd as he moves from the monstrous, immoral demon of Fleet Street to tragic serial killer hellbent on revenge.

We don’t like Sweeney Todd in any of his incarnations, but it is a damn good story.

Brent watched the 2007 Tim Burton Movie and the 1979 stage show

I read the novel version of the 1846-1847 serialised Penny Dreadful titled The String of Pearls or Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street (authorship contested).

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The story is not the sad tale of the tragic and violent figure of Sweeny Todd. It begins really with the story of Lieutenant Thornhill who is bringing the Titular string of pearls to the fiance of shipmate he believes to be dead. His mission to deliver the pearls entrusted to him by Mark Ingestrie to his sweetheart Joanna Oakley is rudely interrupted when he decides to go for a shave as soon as he arrives in London and has the misfortune to choose Sweeny Todd as his barber. Something happens, we don’t quite know what and Thornhill is gone. Thornhill, however, did not arrive in England alone and his faithful dog remains to wait at the barber’s door bitterly mourning his owner. This does not go unnoticed. And one of the more unfortunate souls who are at the heart of this mystery is a little guy called Tobias. He is a young boy who Todd has taken on as his apprentice. Todd beats the boy when he gets out of line or questions the increasing number of men disappearing from the shop to the point at which Tobias ends up a shivering crying wreck in the corner. When Tobias goes to inform authorities Todd has him sent to an asylum, where it is implied that he is not the first of todd’s apprentices to enter the facility if we can even call it that. A large portion of the narrative is devoted to heavily implying, in fact, they come out and say explicitly at one point that they aren’t so much treating or confining people as actively killing them off.

Meanwhile, Thornhill’s disappearance is noticed by his friends Colonel Jeffrey, who not only begins to investigate the disappearance, he also takes it upon himself to get the message of her sweetheart Mark Ingestrie’s death to Joanna Oakley. Joanna is upset obviously but doesn’t believe that Mark Ingetsrie is actually dead because Colonel Jeffery had never met him and was just conferring the information from Thornhill. Joanna begins to believe that the missing Thornhill is actually Jeffery in disguise. She also begins to investigate his disappearance. Her mother is also a religious zealot who is in the thrall of this cultish reverend who believes that he is the chosen one and Joanna is his chosen bride, which ends up resulting in her father and his beefeater cousin turning the reverend out of the house. Her mother then poisons her father and the cousin, survivable poisoning, but there is a bunch of full-blown misogyny in here as well like the cousin telling the story of how he will never marry because even women who seem sweet and supplicant to the whims of men have their own self-determination (that is not his words, he are grosser). At some stage, Joanna decides that her best course of action to dress as a boy and enter into an apprenticeship with Todd, who is, as luck would have it in need of a new apprentice because the last one went mad don’t cha know.

For more listen to The FrankenPod

The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Once upon a time, there was a guy named Brent who trusted Morgan to tell him a story with a beginning, middle and end…

This is the blog post that accompanies The FrankenPod episode Drood! released on the 7th of July 2018. Click here to add us into your podcast app!

This episode we talk about the last story written by Charles Dickens, the characters, the story, the adaptations…

Brent gets a little emotional.

Stay past the outro music for some extra bits including Brent getting excited about theatre stuff and a promo for 6 Degrees of Wiki

The bleak, cold and unfeeling city of London and it’s sometimes monstrous inhabitants, corrupt power structures and labyrinthine streets and alleyways place the work of Dicken’s squarely within Victorian Gothic and The Mystery of Edwin Drood is no exception.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood is the story of the disappearance and potential murder of the titular Edwin Drood who had recently quarrelled with a guy named Neville, broke off an engagement with Rosa and has the misfortune to be a relation to a very unsavoury character named John Jasper. Rosa and Edwin seem to have ended their betrothal by their fathers on friendly terms and it is possible that Drood and Neville Landless managed to patch things up before his disappearance, which just kind of leaves Jasper.

But is Drood really dead and what is the deal with that weird guy Dick Datchery who just turned up out of the blue?

Listen HERE

Once you finish the episode here are the videos Brent promised you:

Promo for the Broadway Show:

 

Super Abridged Musical

The Characters speak:

Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca with Linzi from 33% Pulp

This is a belated blog post for the episode ‘Playing Mrs De Winter… Rebecca By Daphne Du Maurier with Linzi from 33% Pulp’of the FrankenPod. Click here to add us into your podcast app!

First things first, I’m so grateful to Linzi for making the time to not only talk to me about the book but taking the time to reread it! Linzi’s amazing podcast is called 33% Pulp in which she, her cohost Daniel and a rotating third host recap a work of pulp fiction one third at a time. It is very funny and I listen to new episodes as soon as they come up in my podcast feed.

Linzi shares some very interesting theories and insights into this amazingly ambiguous text and talks about how her view of the novel has changed since her first reading.

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Never read Rebecca?

‘Rebecca’ was released in 1938 and owes much of its success to the possible straight romantic reading, but when you complicate the narrative by drawing attention to the unreliable narrator and the subversive themes that hide just below the surface there is something very strange, gothic and wonderful going on.

An unnamed young girl with no family meets a dark, broody Mr Rochester of Jane Eyre type, the widower Mr Maximillian Dewinter type while in Monte Carlo, he proposes to her after like a week or two and they go to his estate and Mansion Mandalay.

His first wife called him Max but he tells our named narrator she must call him Maxim

But the first Mrs De winter, the titular Rebecca has not quite left. Her presence is felt everywhere and her former personal maid Mrs Danvers is of the firm opinion that our unnamed narrator has in someway usurped Rebecca’s role in the house and we as readers think that this is going to be the plot, the pseudo haunting of the unnamed narrator by the more elegant, sophisticated and attractive Rebecca. But…