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Other Voices, Other Rooms

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  12,946 ratings  ·  910 reviews
Published when Truman Capote was only twenty-three years old, Other Voices, Other Rooms is a literary touchstone of the mid-twentieth century. In this semiautobiographical coming-of-age novel, thirteen-year-old Joel Knox, after losing his mother, is sent from New Orleans to live with the father who abandoned him at birth. But when Joel arrives at Skully’s Landing, the deca ...more
Paperback, 232 pages
Published February 1st 1994 by Vintage (first published 1948)
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Johanna Jaworski If tackling racism, means ripping the guts of America and exposing the ugliest parts of our diseased culture and leaving it lying there to rot with no…moreIf tackling racism, means ripping the guts of America and exposing the ugliest parts of our diseased culture and leaving it lying there to rot with no hope of cure, then yes. For all of characters, but especially the black people, this is a brutal story and beyond Capote's beautiful language, there is nothing pretty about it.
Most of the African Americans we meet are old men who accepted their status in life and are looking toward the next life with joy. Zoo is young, strong and beautiful. She longs for adventure and having survived her husband's attempt to kill her, she believes herself to be prepared to face the world. She is a very real, lovable person and her fate is tragically foreseeable. I loved her and I loved this book but I found myself wanting to burn it. (less)
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Average rating 3.80  · 
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 ·  12,946 ratings  ·  910 reviews

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May 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, recs
As perplexing as it is captivating, Other Voices, Other Rooms is Capote's hallucinatory literary début, a Southern Gothic bildungsroman based partially on its writer's experience of growing up gay in rural Alabama. The novel wavers between the surreal and the familiar, the obvious and the mystifying; all the while, Capote's ornate language and labyrinthine syntax entrance his reader, inviting them to dwell in a consistently disturbing setting. The plot concerns thirteen-year-old Joel Knox's move ...more
Vit Babenco
Sep 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes childhood can be seen in a Gothic light.
The windows of the house are cracked and shattered, hollow as eyeless sockets; a rotted balcony leans perilously forward, and yellow sunflower birds hide their nests in its secret places; the scaling outer walls are ragged with torn, weather-faded posters that flutter when there is a wind. Among the town kids it is a sign of great valor to enter these black rooms after dark and signal with a match-flame from a window on the topmost floor.

K.D. Absolutely
In 1935, at an early age of 11, Capote began writing. The first novel that he attempted to write was Summer Crossing but one day, while he and a fellow southerner and writer Carlson McCullers, the author of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1940), were walking in the woods, he got inspired to write something about the rural life in the South. So, he set Summer Crossing aside and wrote this book. This then became his first published book (1948) when Capote was 24 years old. The style is Southern Goth ...more
lori light
Mar 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: myfavorites
my favorite quotes:

"...all his prayers of the past had been simple concrete requests: God, give me a bicycle, a knife with seven blades, a box of oil paints. Only how, how, could you say something so indefinite, so meaningless as this: God, let me be loved."

" few of us learn that love is tenderness, and tenderness is not, as a fair proportion suspect, pity; and still fewer know that happiness in love is not the absolute focusing of all emotion in another: one has always to love a good many
Jan 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Lawyer by: O.B. Emerson, Professor Emeritus, Dept. of English, University of Alabama
Other Voices, Other Rooms: Capote's Swamp Baroque Concerto in Three Movements

Other Voices, Other Rooms was an attempt to exorcise demons, an unconscious, altogether intuitive attempt, for I was not aware, except for a few incidents and descriptions, of its being in any serious degree autobiographical. Rereading it now, I find such self-deception unpardonable.--Truman Capote, The Dogs Bark, New York, Random House, 1973


First Edition

Having just re-read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, I re
Doug H
Jul 18, 2015 rated it liked it
Southern Gothic on steroids and/or mushrooms.

During a recent re-read of To Kill a Mockingbird I learned that Harper Lee and Truman Capote were childhood friends and that each of them had based a character in their novels on each other.

In To Kill a Mockingbird, Ms. Lee based Dill Harris on Mr. Capote and in Other Voices, Other Rooms Mr. Capote based Idabel Thompkins on Ms. Lee. They both describe these quirky characters so affectionately that the affection became contagious for me. Maybe it isn
Diane Barnes
Apr 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: re-reads
I read this many years ago, and remember liking it, but not much else. I suppose I considered it well written, and wanted to read everything Capote had done, as I really loved IN COLD BLOOD, and was fascinated by the little man with the squeaky voice that I saw on television. In interviews, he was fearless, and said the most shocking things he could think of, because he loved the attention.

This time around though, I think it's one of the saddest things I've ever read. Semi-autobiographical, it's
Jan 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
"Other Voices Other Rooms" is at times massively confusing, intensely beautiful, and mystical. Often, all at the same time. Capote's command and use of language and style is unquestionably brilliant, and many times the text reads like poetry. Capote is simply a masterful composer of language. Every word in its rightful place.
Capote also has the gift that many writers lack and that is a descriptive prowess that completely surrounds the reader and engulfs them in the world of the text. The first t
Jonathan Ashleigh
Jun 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: recent
Truman Capote is currently my favorite writer. The poetic fashion in which he brings a novel to life is extraordinary and I hope he can continue to impress me. He introduces his characters in a perfect order, and they are people you want to know more about. The only drawback to this book, his first novel, is that he assumed I understood where he was going at every turn, and I didn’t. I wanted a big ending that made we want to start the book over from the beginning. I didn’t get it.
Jul 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Wow, how does one describe this?!

In this story, Truman Capote's Idabel Thompkins is the young Harper Lee, just as Lee's Dill is the young Capote in To Kill a Mockingbird. The two books are nevertheless c-o-m-p-l-e-t-e-l-y different. Don’t expect to be given a similar tale. Capote’s book is semi-autobiographical and quite a number of the characters are inspired by family and friends he once knew.

What adjectives best describe this book? Magical, beautiful, creepy and frightening. Southern Gothic w
Nov 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: You're such a Truuuuuuuu-man
Recommended to Mariel by: Oh capote-y! I love the books that you wrote-y
Truman Capote's Other Voices, Other Rooms is more of a raising yourself through experiences and colored glasses- green, red, rose, purple, the whole over the rainbow spectrum- world views than coming of age. The painful growth into what you think you are, and who you really are. I'm more and more irritated with "coming of age" tag these days, since I can't accept that there's this point where one comes to this point, and then you're done. It's more like stops and starts, backwards and forwards, ...more
Jul 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
“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! Th
'In Cold Blood' is my only previous experience with the writing of Truman Capote. I thought that book was superb, so I had high expectations for this first novel of his, published when he was only 23 years old. Initially, I was loving the descriptive prose, but after a while it started feeling overwritten, forced. And this story of young Joel Knox desperately seeking love and acceptance, and the disparity between his expectations of the reunion with his father and the reality of it, and the woe ...more
Why is it that when I find a book worthy of five stars I'm at a loss for words, and can't write anything sensible about it? Well, let's just say that I fell head over heels with Capote after this one. One hundred percent more skill than his friend Harper Lee. The way Capote uses words is simple yet it creates a strong sense of place. The lack of plot doesn't really matter for me personally, because there's everything I could ever need from a Southern Gothic novel. Eccentric characters, ambiguous ...more
I loved this when I first read it in my early 20's, but I couldn't remember anything about it as I reread it. I really liked it this time around, primarily for the poetic and magical writing that placed me right there – sights, sounds, smells - in this dreamlike Southern Gothic story.

Thirteen-year-old Joel Knox recently lost his mother and is living with his Aunt Ellen in New Orleans. One day a letter from his father, who had not been heard from for twelve years, summons Joel to Skully’s Landin
Mar 19, 2008 rated it liked it
It wasn't until after seeing "Capote" (excellent film, by the by) that I got the itch to read something by the film's namesake. Thus far my first choice, "In Cold Blood," has been checked out every time I've gone to the library, so I settled instead for his first novel, "Other Voices, Other Rooms."

I was not surprised to see the young protagonist, Joel, as a reflection of Capote himself. What did interest me, however, was that in the twenty-fifth anniversary edition I was reading, Capote wrote a
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
[2.5 Stars]

My Video Review (Spoilers):

For now, it was different than what I expected. I think it was interesting reading In Cold Blood first before reading this one. I found they actually have some overlapping themes, but the ending was very rushed, I thought. I'm going to do some more research and compile my notes, so I hope that video is up in the next week or two.
May 07, 2007 rated it liked it
You know Truman Capote's famous quote about how he felt that he and Perry Smith grew up in the same house, and then one day he got up and walked out through the front door, while Perry left out the back? Also, you know the unnecessary speculation that Capote actually wrote his friend Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird? I really enjoyed this book with its odd, closely observed detail and gothic, Southern, open claustrophobia. Still, it kind of feels like this book and To Kill a Mockingbird incuba ...more
Olga Kowalska (WielkiBuk)
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Exquisite. Beautiful. A masterpiece.
May 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
After his mother's death Joel Knox is summoned to the decaying Mississippi mansion Skully's Landing to meet the father who abandoned him and runs smack dab into a menagerie of odd characters namely an addled stepmother Amy, silk kimono dressed Uncle Randolph, barely alive bedridden father Mr. Samson, and the wild girl child Idabel who all exist in some kind of dreamlike narrative.
I've read ICB and BAT so Capote is not a new author for me. I understand this is supposed to be semi-autobiographica
This review won’t be very long, I find, more than anything, the pandemic’s sort of left me without words.

I read this book for my 20th century queer project, a project where I read 100+ books, one for each year of the 20th century. This was my book for 1948.

I want to use all the adjectives to describe this book. Lush, beautiful, sensual, hot, sticky, Gothic, queer, but I find that a lot of the adjectives I reach for fall short. His command of his work really is exemplary. I listened to this on a
Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Other Voices, Other Rooms is a coming-of-age novel but I felt there was no real plot or point; I struggled to understand what was happening for half the novel. I’d finally feel I got to grips with it and understood what was happening, only to turn the page and feel lost all over again. I feel like this novel was meant to be a profound piece of literature but it felt a bit like Capote tried too hard, tried to be too poetic and mysterious and totally lost me, as a reader, along the way.

My favourit
Book Concierge

Capote’s debut novel is a semiautobiographical coming-of-age story. After the death of his mother, thirteen-year-old Joel Knox leaves New Orleans to travel to rural Alabama, and the home of the father who abandoned him at birth. Skully’s Landing is his stepmother Amy’s dilapidated mansion, set far in the woods, and without electricity or indoor plumbing. Among the residents of the estate are a centenarian Negro, Jesus Fever, his granddaughter Missouri (known as Zoo), who keeps house for t
Feb 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Truman Capote's first published novel, under contract to Bennett Cerf at Random House, was this OTHER VOICES, OTHER ROOMS (1948). Capote had already had some success as a short-story writer, and the novel is fairly accomplished for an otherwise young author.

Essentially it's a mixture of allegory, message and Southern Gothick. (Spoilers will follow): The allegory is most easily seen in following young Joel Knox from the unnamed big city (which could be nothing but New Orleans) to the hinterland,
Apr 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
People under the impression the discussion of gender and sexuality is a new thing are so wrong. And this book wasn’t some underground gem that’s simmered on the back burner, like so much LGBTQ fiction. It makes you wonder if we’ve gone backward, because this was a huge hit when it was published in 1948, vaulting Truman Capote into the stratosphere. I have loved Truman Capote since the 90’s, when I finally read In Cold Blood and The Grass Harp, but I didn’t re-read this (which I read in high scho ...more
Wayne Barrett
Jun 30, 2017 rated it it was ok


Once again, Capotes writing is masterful. Unfortunately, the quality of writing wasn't enough to merit a high rating.

This story of a young man going home to meet his father among a group of eclectic characters had a lot of potential, but ultimately, the story went nowhere. I had the sense that Truman was leaning too hard on an artsy-fartsy style and the result was a book that failed to entertain me.
J.C. Ahmed
Dec 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
I read this book years ago and it has always stuck with me. It’s so desolate and atmospheric, and filled with strange characters. Everything is ruin and decay with deteriorating plantation houses, a garden that’s "a jumbled wreckage," and a paralyzed father. Published in 1948, Other Voices, Other Rooms spent nine weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. It was also groundbreaking for its depictions of gay characters.
Aric Cushing
Before the drinking, the fame, the chaos, and the loss, Capote wrote this amazing novel about a boy's journey into manhood. This work ranks as one of the best with some amazing peripheral images. A strange classic not designed for the fandom crowd.
Jul 19, 2015 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: literary flim-flammy lovers?
Recommended to Jason by: Charles Baker "Dill" Harris
**Tangentially related to my Murder by Death project explained here. (The "tangential" part is mentioned below.)**

What in the hell did I just read? I guess this is a bildungsroman of sorts, but it's missing the bil and sroman, and you can see what we're left with. A very strange book. I heard that the character of Idabel was based on Truman Capote's real life childhood friend Harper Lee, and that Dill in To Kill a Mockingbird was based on Truman. It all sounded like fun, so I checked it out. Now
Joseph Sciuto
Mar 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Truman Capote's "Other Voices, Other Rooms" is a beautiful, creative, delectable novel. In short, it is like a magnificent and diverse banquet that overwhelms all your senses. This is the book, his first book at the age of 24, that immediately shot him to literary and international fame.

It is lyrical, enchanting, spiritual, haunting, and at times it hinges on the supernatural. The writing at times is so effortless that it reminded me of Byron (a super high compliment), at other times so painstak
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Truman Capote was an American writer whose non-fiction, stories, novels and plays are recognised literary classics, including the novella Breakfast at Tiffany's (1958) and In Cold Blood (1965), which he labeled a "non-fiction novel." At least 20 films and TV dramas have been produced from Capote novels, stories and screenplays.

He was born as Truman Streckfus Persons to a salesman Archulus Persons

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