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Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote
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's review
Jul 05, 2010

it was amazing
Read in June, 2010 — I own a copy , read count: 9

“Other Voices, Other Rooms”
by Truman Capote

Book Review by Jay Gilbertson

This is maybe the eighth, could be the ninth time I’ve read this amazing little novel and I know for certain I’ll read it again one day. Billed as Capote’s first, and in my opinion his best work, Other Voices, Other Rooms is truly an amazing piece of literature and still haunts me today.
The author took a classic coming-of-age theme and carefully, subtly and with fascinatingly flawed characters—ripped it to smithereens! The story centers around two powerful topics that Capote struggled with his entire life: the search for a father-figure and the struggle with sexual orientation. What carries this tale is Capote’s brilliant prose and impeccable descriptions of place. He is one of the more rare authors that compel the reader to constantly re-read certain passages not because they’re confusing but due to the incredible picture the author presents of thirteen-year-old, Joel Knox, on the brink of manhood.
Give this a try:
“…He lay there on a bed of cold pebbles, the cool water washing, rippling over him; he wished he were a leaf, like the current-carried leaves riding past: leaf-boy, he would float lightly away, float and fade into a river, an ocean, the world’s great flood.”
With the death of Joel’s mother early on in the story, he is sent off to live with his estranged father in a dilapidated old hotel that, like its occupants, is further sinking into disrepair. From the psychotic step-mother, Miss Amy, to her eccentric cousin, Randolph, to the crusty-cook, Zoo, there isn’t a stereotype left to imagine. Throw in Idabel and Florabel, twins as different as they are alike, and you’ve got a brew of misfits that will surround you with color and sparkle contrasted with loneliness and despair at every turn. One jarring element that any modern reader will find uncomfortable to read is Capote’s use of the ‘N’ word. Though common back when this work was first published, it seems appropriate within the story and adds yet another layer to this complex cast.

Another of the many fascinating characters is not a person, but an old resort called Cloud Hotel. It too is a falling apart place with a history that will burn into your imagination and leave you wanting to know more. Though I’ve read everything Capote ever wrote, it’s this novel I return to because like some poetry, each reading I find some new gem to marvel and wonder about.
Like this clever title-weave-in:
“…But Little Sunshine stayed on: it was his rightful home, he said, for if he went away, as he had once upon a time, other voices, other rooms, voices lost and clouded, strummed his dreams…”
Oh and there’s also a midget and a woman with a huge wart on her chin and a one-armed barber and a cat named Toby. And of course, there’s a woman in the window and you won’t believe who that turns out to be—or perhaps you will.

For more information about the author visit:

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04/05 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Bruce Great review of a great book.

message 2: by Jay (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jay Blushing---you're very kind

☺Trish Very eloquent and informative book review. Thanks for the Capote info site link.

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