Joseph's Reviews > Other Voices, Other Rooms

Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote
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's review
Feb 04, 2010

really liked it
Read from February 04 to 19, 2010

** spoiler alert ** Writer's win our approval in a variety of ways.Truman Capote did it by his masterly use of language.His best works are a veritable "how to" on the use of diction.I doubt there are any who had a better grasp of it.It's not only his use of marvelous visual imagery; it's his sense of rhythm too that is nonpareil.It may be interesting to note Truman wrote the words to the classic Bill Evans piano jazz piece,"A Singing Bee." (I'm not positive about the title, but I remember it did swing!)His use of analogy is stunningly unique and unteacheable.

Still, there is something about most of his work that leaves one with an empty feeling; kind of like eating a Chinese meal.I think it has to do with...I don't know... Truman would pick the perfect word..."preciousness" or the like. There is something too rare ...too unique...idiosyncratic... about his writing.A reader gets a sense that his characters are interesting ,if quirky, but somehow unrelated to their own lives.The greatest works have themes that are universal...unbounded by time or locale. Truman's are more than just Southern(and I love Southern1); more than merely frequently Gothic...Southern Grotesque. They's that word again...idiosyncratic. One senses one is reading something written by a very rare (and very precious) precocious child.(Other Voices was written when he was seventeen.)
Some point to the undercurrent of homosexuality in Other Voices... and note it was written in 1948 and therefore very much ahead of its times. I think that's partially true, but even Joel's awakening to his own homosexuality seems to take a secondary position to Truman's stylistic pyrotechnics.
Norman Mailer once said,"Truman Capote is the most perfect writer of (my) generation." I'm not sure he's correct. He certainly was one of the most intereting.

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Reading Progress

02/04/2010 page 10
02/19/2010 "Completed."

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Booksrock (new)

Booksrock Joseph, I have always felt that this is Capote's finest. Perhaps written when all that really mattered to him was the writing.

message 2: by Joseph (last edited Feb 06, 2010 07:51AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joseph Booksrock,
I agree... so far.I base my love of Capote on the type of writing he did in "A Christmas Memory." As a writer myself, I admit to being envious of Truman's wonderful way with words.In that respect he may be unmatched.
I can tell already this is Truman as his best, before the "Black and White Ball," and all the other stuff that took him off course.
How can you not love a work that begins,"Now a traveler must make his way to Noon City by the best means he can..."

His sense of rhythm is flawless.You may be interested to know that Truman teamed up with the late great Bill Evans to write a classic jazz piece,"A Quiltin' Bee." Evans, a legend among jazz pianists wrote the music and Truman did the words.You may not need to be a musician to write fluidly, but it surely doesn't hurt.I well remember how difficult it was to help my students with feeling the rhythm of a story. Like most things, you either had it or you didn't. If you do, you may need to thank Whomever or Whatever that you are blessed.
I can't wait to read OTHER... again tonight. Best.

message 3: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth I really liked your review, Joseph. You articulated beautifully the strangeness of much of Capote's writing and how it can be both thrilling in its beautify yet vaguely unsatisfying. Your analogy with a Chinese meal made me smile, but it was perfect.

Joseph Thanks, Elizabeth.Truman was an interesting character.Several biographies( I think Gerald Clarke wrote one) about him as well as his own Conversations with Capote(Edited by Lawrence Grobel)reveal his self-centeredness and Narcissism. I think all good writers( and no doubt some pretty poor ones)have strong egos; you need it.Still,Truman's sense of self stands out even among the the rest of us.
Writer's,like athletes, musicians etc. are not necessarily role models.That's why I think we should enjoy their gifts and judge them only on that.Truman's problem was his self-centeredness crept into not only his life but also his books. That may be a reason while wonderfully written, his books don't necessary inform or elevate.

P.S. A writer who does both is Joseph Cavano. (He looks suspiciously like me.)
Remember what I said about writer's and egos! Best

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