Several weeks ago I read (for the first time) Truman Capote’s ‘In Cold Blood’. I found it absolutely fascinating and very well written. Also in my “to be read” pile was ‘The Family’ by Ed Sanders which I finished today. Ed is as authentic a member/participant of ’60s counter-culture that you could name; founder of the “literary” magazine ‘Fuck You:A Magazine of the Arts’, one time proprietor of the ‘Peace Eye Bookstore’ in NY and member of that anything-goes band, ‘The Fugs’. So I was more than a little surprised that a card carrying member of the Beat and Hippie movements would come up with 540 pages about Charles Manson and the Tate-Labianca murders. But I’m glad he did. Who better to write about the ultimate group of outsiders than someone who was on that side of the fence anyway but could relate to the establishment. (which gave him access to all the information they had)
Capote is(was) by far the better writer, but throughout ‘In Cold Blood’ never did I have any feeling of dread and suspicion about the world we live in like I did while reading ‘The Family’. I’ve known people who have joked about California being the land of “fruits and nuts” but after reading about Manson and his followers (The Family) I realized that area of the country is far weirder than most sane people could imagine. Sanders describes a world where Hollywood, Rock’n’Roll, cults, drugs, and of course murder for the sake of murder interact as if it were meant to be in some strange way.Sanders lays it all out in a “just the facts” manner to read and decipher. As grisly an ‘In Cold Blood’ was, it didn’t give me that paranoid feeling of wondering if I should keep my windows and doors locked at all times like ‘The Family’ did.
Next selection that just happens to be in my to-be-read pile? A book mentioned repeatedly as having some impact and meaning to Charles Manson – ‘Stranger In A Strange Land’ by Robert Heinlein.