wedding stock

I will occasionally listen to the podcast “What Should I Read Next?” hosted by Anne Bogel of Louisville, who reads upwards of 100 books per year.  

I marvel at how she finds time to do that, given that her podcast has grown into a full-blown business. I suppose, since reading is the topic on which she has built that business, she can spend at least part of her workday reading.  

Working is what keeps me from doing all the reading I want to do, so it’s hard for me to relate to that. But I enjoy hearing Anne’s recommendations, as well as those of her guests.  

She will sometimes ask a guest, “What would you like to be different in your reading life?” I often wonder how I would answer that question  

I generally read books from my ever-growing “To Be Read” (TBR) list. In the spirit of Anne’s question, I decided to add some older books, or classics, to my TBR this year. A friend says I can consider anything older than 50 years a classic.  

I have always thought of “Jane Eyre,” “A Tale of Two Cities,” “Moby Dick” and those of that ilk to be the true classics. But if my friend’s definition is correct, then that broadens the classic list. (I can’t fully buy in to the definition, since there was obviously some crummy stuff published more than 50 years ago. But that’s another discussion.)  

I recently finished “In Cold Blood” by Truman Capote. First published in 1966, it is well over 50 years old. 

It is considered a “non-fiction novel,” meaning the events described are true, but the author takes liberties with some of the narrative, especially dialogue. 

“In Cold Blood” details the 1959 murders of four members of a family in the rural community of Holcomb, Kansas. Capote and his childhood friend, Harper Lee, went to Kansas and interviewed residents and investigators who worked the case. They reportedly took thousands of pages of notes.  

The result is a chilling depiction of what happened, based on those interviews. I dare say if you’re a fan of the increasingly popular true crime genre, this one might be the gold standard.  

Capote’s details about the murders are gripping, to say the least. It’s still daunting to imagine, all these years later, how this affected a sleepy Kansas community. The pall of sadness is palpable for the reader.  

But it’s the author’s portrayal of the killers that had me turning pages the fastest. While at times both would have qualified for “stupid criminals,” the relationship between Richard Hickock and Perry Smith, and their respective backgrounds, is nothing short of fascinating.  

It’s certainly not a beach read, and its classification as a classic is still debatable. But for sheer literary value, if you have never read this one and you can get past some of the gruesomeness, you might find it worth your time.  

Transition to a wedding 

While this might be an awkward segue, the biggest fan of true crime stories I know would be my son David, and I want to make sure I say a word about him this week.  

The youngest of my three children, he and I share a love of good writing. We frequently pass on recommendations to each other. When I told him I had read “In Cold Blood,” thinking it would be right up his alley, I should not have been surprised when he told me he read it in high school.  

A couple of years ago, just a couple of months into the pandemic, my wife and I emerged from lockdown and crossed the Alabama state line (half-way thinking we might be stopped) to see family.While in Birmingham, where David lives,he introduced us to Katie, the young lady he had been dating a few months.  

At the end of the evening when we got back in the car to drive home, we looked at each other and simultaneously said, “Wow.” 

It was “wow” not only because David had introduced us to a person he was openly calling his girlfriend (a first), but because we were completely taken by her. 

The rest, as the saying goes, is history. Katie soon became part of the family, included in vacations and holidays. She quickly won over David’s brother and sister, their spouses and his nieces and nephews.  

This coming Saturday, we’ll be back in Birmingham for David and Katie’s wedding.  

As is the tradition for the groom’s parents, we will host the rehearsal dinner Friday night. There will be toasts and well wishes for the happy couple.  

One would think, after saying a few words at the same event when our older son married in 2011 and our daughter in 2015, I would be prepared.  

Yet every time I go through it in my head, I get choked up. So just in case I can’t get through it, I’ll put it in writing here.  

Congratulations to both of you. Welcome to the family, Katie.  

And wow.  

Bob McKinney is a longtime Brentwood resident, happy husband and proud father, father-in-law and grandfather. Email him at [email protected] 

Bob McKinney is a longtime Brentwood resident, happy husband and proud father, father-in-law and grandfather.