Mali Sastri: Channeling Capote

Sastri recounts how In Cold Blood rekindled her inspiration for music @ Talking Writing. A few years ago, I found myself with a serious writer’s block.

Since 2004, I’ve fronted and managed the band Jaggery. Our sound is difficult to describe, but we try with phrases like “darkwave jazz,” “ethereal avant-rock,” and “chamber art pop.”

I love the band, but managing it comes at a price. The semi-instant gratification of booking shows, planning tours, and promoting becomes the main concern, and the reflective, patient, inspired place I need to be in order to write is often, sadly, given lowest priority.

I’m not talking about writing music—that comes easily or, at least, more naturally. It’s the lyrics that trip me up every time. I feel as though the last drop is being wrung from my soul by the effort to find words that not only fit the music but express what both I and the song need to say.

By 2007, I’d slipped into a rut of minimal output. Yet, I found inspiration in a completely unexpected place: a book about a murder.

Five years ago, one of my bandmates lent me In Cold Blood, Truman Capote’s 1966 classic. I’d never heard of it. The book’s subtitle, “A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences,” held no particular connotations for me. I had never been a true crime follower and spent little time thinking seriously about violence or murder, mercy or capital punishment.

In Cold Blood profoundly changed all that. Capote’s prose—at once descriptive and elegant—drew me into the harrowing tragedy of the Clutter murders, making it hard to put down the book. When I finished it, I realized that my experience with it had gone deeper, beyond mere curiosity. I’d felt an intense connection with the book’s most complex character: murderer Perry Smith. Read More... Post a Comment