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Other Voices, Other Rooms
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Group Reads: Pre-1990 > Final Impressions: Other Voices, Other Rooms: May 2018

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message 1: by Tom, "Big Daddy" (new) - rated it 3 stars

Tom Mathews | 2748 comments Mod
Comments on this board are made with the assumption that readers have finished the book and may include spoilers.


message 2: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 4 stars

Diane Barnes | 4409 comments Mod
I finished quickly, only 169 pages. Here is a review by Diane: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


Wyndy | 241 comments I am curious to see how other readers interpret the ending of this story as "she" beckons to Joel from the window: " . . . he knew he must go: unafraid, not hesitating . . ."


message 4: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 4 stars

Diane Barnes | 4409 comments Mod
Cousin Randolph was doing his cross dressing act again, and was obviously a gay man hiding from a non-accepting society in this decaying mansion in the middle of nowhere. At the end of the story, Joel goes toward his future life as a homosexual, although in real life he was not one to hide anything. There were signs all along that Joel never fit into any "manly" role. This was a pretty daring novel for the time because of that theme, but it was so subtle that a lot of people probably missed it. I know I did the first time I read it.


Wyndy | 241 comments I just commented to Doug on my review that I saw so many symbols in this ending, but wasn't sure where to land. Joel wanted to run away at the end - first with Zoo, then with Idabel. But I think Zoo's story about what happened to her when she embarked on her trip to Washington really shook him up. He talked a lot at the end about "having a bed" at the Landing. Was he simply looking for a place of safety? He knew Randolph loved him and would take care of him. He knew Randolph was concerned and came looking for him after he told his father he was leaving. And then, the events with Miss Wisteria . . . Joel was obviously unnerved by her sexual overtures, so you might have nailed it, Diane. But I still am not sure where to land :-)


message 6: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 4 stars

Diane Barnes | 4409 comments Mod
Anyone would have been unnerved by Miss Wisteria. Of course, Joel was only 13, and his mother had died and his father was unreachable, but if you look at it as an autobiographical allegory, (not sure that's the right word), and add the fact that he told interviewers that this book exorcised some demons, then add in the fact that other than Randolph, he was completely alone, (I considered Amy a non-person), then it just breaks your heart for him. The only thing that I couldn't figure out was why Randolph sent for him in the first place, pretending to be his father. How would he even have known about him? Definitely food for thought.


Dustincecil | 178 comments This is wild..

By the end I was convinced that Randolph wasn't even real. And infact that the whole story was dreamed up by some child with an overactive imagination on his death bed. I need some time to think this one over..

My last reading year, seems to be snagged in a witchy web on the outskirts of New Orleans..

The names in this book are crazy!


message 8: by ALLEN (last edited May 08, 2018 10:16AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

ALLEN | 138 comments How did we go from "First" to "Final" Impressions without the novel in between??

PS: Diane, I liked your review. I myself might give it ***** , but never mind that.


Camie | 105 comments I'm giving myself extra credit for finishing. I'm glad there is no comprehensive quiz, no way I'd pass one on this.


message 10: by John (new) - added it

John | 539 comments Oh Camie, And I've been feeling guilty. Not no more. You've let me off the hoof, hook even.

This one didn't capture my attention. Not one bit. I had such high hopes too.

jt


message 11: by Tom, "Big Daddy" (new) - rated it 3 stars

Tom Mathews | 2748 comments Mod
I know how you feel, John.


message 12: by Suzy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Suzy (goodreadscomsuzy_hillard) | 211 comments I'm a little late to the party, but wanted to weigh in with a few comments. In my copy of the book there's an intro by John Berendt of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil fame. He shares that the Sunday NY Times reviewer said "The story of Joel Knox did not need to be told, except to get it out of the author's system." while the daily NY Times reviewer praised "the potent magic of Capote's writing is positive proof of the arrival of a new writer of substantial talent.". So from the beginning there were a wide range of feelings about the book and about Capote as evidenced in our discussion!

I loved this when I first read it when I was in my early 20's, but as that was decades ago, I couldn't remember anything about it as I reread it. I really liked it this time around, primarily for the beautiful poetic writing that placed me right there in this dreamlike southern gothic story. (As Dustincecil pointed out - dreamlike, fuzzy at the edges.) There was so much to fear for Joell given the strikes against him and this weird place in which he found himself, but I was so encouraged when he realized who he was on his trek back from the Cloud Hotel. "I am me," Joel whooped. "I am Joel, we are the same people." It made me feel that he would be ok, as he left his child-self behind and decided to stay. Haven't written my review, but I'm feeling 4ish stars.

On a totally side note, I'm reading The Shadow of the Wind which has a includes a decaying mansion as part of the setting and I kept getting confused about which book I was in when reading certain passages! :)


message 13: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 4 stars

Diane Barnes | 4409 comments Mod
Great recap, Suzy. The more you know about Truman Capote, the better this book seems.


message 14: by Suzy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Suzy (goodreadscomsuzy_hillard) | 211 comments Diane wrote: "Great recap, Suzy. The more you know about Truman Capote, the better this book seems."

That must be true, Diane! I meant to respond to your earlier comment about how in the heck did Joel even get sent for by these people? How did Randolph know to summon him? That is a great question and one that was not particularly answered in this book.


message 15: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 4 stars

Diane Barnes | 4409 comments Mod
Not only how did he know to summon him, but why did they want him there? They seemed to resent his presence. It seems to me that since this was his first novel, a good editor should have caught that.


message 16: by Suzy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Suzy (goodreadscomsuzy_hillard) | 211 comments Diane wrote: "Not only how did he know to summon him, but why did they want him there? They seemed to resent his presence. It seems to me that since this was his first novel, a good editor should have caught that."

Yes! A good editor would have pointed out that it would be better if the reader knew a little of that. But in the end, Randolph needed him as much as Joel needed to be loved and cared for. Testimony to that was that he took Joel to the Cloud Hotel because his Aunt Ellen was coming to see (and maybe rescue) Joel. So many layers to this.


Dustincecil | 178 comments Watched the movie version of this over the weekend. The boy who played Joel wasn't the est actor- but Miss Amy was soooo great, she reminded me of a miss havisham type. Not to mention all of Randolph's amazing house clothes.


message 18: by Suzy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Suzy (goodreadscomsuzy_hillard) | 211 comments Dustincecil wrote: "Watched the movie version of this over the weekend. The boy who played Joel wasn't the est actor- but Miss Amy was soooo great, she reminded me of a miss havisham type. Not to mention all of Randol..."

How did you access it? I've been meaning to search to see if my library has it, but just did and they don't. I'd love to see it!


Dustincecil | 178 comments Suzy, I was able to get a DVD copy from the university library- interlibrary loan. Let me know what you think if you're able to find a copy.


ALLEN | 138 comments Hi, everybody! Sorry for this late posting but my partner and I just got back from a motor trip to the Southeast (USA).

Here's a passage from Gerald Clarke's Capote biography (cunningly entitled Capote). I commend to everyone looking for some recap and critical opinion at the time of OTHER VOICES' publication the pages from 155 to 164 in Clarke's book (note: the pagination may be a page or two off for subsequent paperback editions, in that annoying 1990s way).

Unsurprisingly, the late Forties critical opinion was divided, trending negative, but not nearly so bad as a stricken Capote made it sound at the time.


message 21: by Suzy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Suzy (goodreadscomsuzy_hillard) | 211 comments Dustincecil wrote: "Suzy, I was able to get a DVD copy from the university library- interlibrary loan. Let me know what you think if you're able to find a copy."

I'm going to my library to ask for an interlibrary loan this afternoon. I'll let you know!!


message 22: by Suzy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Suzy (goodreadscomsuzy_hillard) | 211 comments Dustincecil wrote: "Watched the movie version of this over the weekend. The boy who played Joel wasn't the est actor- but Miss Amy was soooo great, she reminded me of a miss havisham type. Not to mention all of Randol..."

Looping back to say I just watched the movie, also gotten from an interlibrary loan. It was not the best movie, but I'm so glad I saw it. Loved seeing the locale, as well as parts of the story brought to life. And you're right - Cousin Randolph's outfits!!


message 23: by ALLEN (last edited Jun 24, 2018 09:21AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

ALLEN | 138 comments I might just try to dig up the movie, too. I was pleased to see that French-Canadian actor Lothaire Bluteau (JESUS OF MONTREAL, BLACK ROBE) played "decadent" Randolph. He is good at unconventional roles.

In later years, I have been told, Capote was a little nonplussed that so much of OTHER VOICES, OTHER ROOMS was interpreted as a "gay novel of self-discovery." Certainly it has that aspect (ultimately little Joel meets his relatives and realizes that he is not alone due to encountering Randolph in particular), but at the time I think even he did not realize how self-revelatory it was.

Interesting sidenote: The same year OVOR* was published (1948), Gore Vidal saw the publication of HIS first novel, THE CITY AND THE PILLAR, which has a gay protagonist (though Vidal himself, even in later life, would have preferred the appelation "homosexualist"). I guess whoever said all first novels are autobiographical had a point, at least in such cases as these.

* Technically OVOR is not Capote's first novel but it was his first published novel. Capote wrote the mediocre Summer Crossing first, but it did not actually get published until after his death -- a vapid society tale reminiscent of the sort of thing that filled the "women's" magazines of the late Forties, and not a very good job at that. "For Capote completionists only."

I wholeheartedly concur, though, that "A Christmas Memory" is wonderful, whether between covers or in the early PBS adaptation starring Geraldine Page as Capote's beloved aunt "Sook." It has usually been combined with other short Capote pieces.
The Thanksgiving Visitor / A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote


Dustincecil | 178 comments I'm to the part in his letters right before OVOR is coming out. T is a sweet bundle of nerves, reaching out to all his friends to calm his nerves. He's got nothing but sweet things to say about Carson McCullers.

Was cousin Randolph overweight in the book? I cant remember...


message 25: by ALLEN (last edited Jun 24, 2018 10:41AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

ALLEN | 138 comments I don't believe he was. The kitchen cook was, but she was not a relative.

Later on, Truman Capote and Carson McCullers had a major falling-out, based on the fact that McCullers was older, and infirm, and "Tru" did not invite her to his celebrated black-and-white ball in honor of Katharine Graham (1966 or thereabouts).

I think he should have -- but she got REALLY vicious toward the end. Once again, Gerald Clarke's Capote bio provides the story, though in the interim someone else has written a whole book about the event.
Party of the Century The Fabulous Story of Truman Capote and His Black and White Ball by Deborah Davis


message 26: by Suzy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Suzy (goodreadscomsuzy_hillard) | 211 comments Dustincecil wrote: "I'm to the part in his letters right before OVOR is coming out. T is a sweet bundle of nerves, reaching out to all his friends to calm his nerves. He's got nothing but sweet things to say about Car..."

Yes, he was overweight, with a round bloated face, if I recall correctly. The actor in the movie didn't ring true to the book, although I think he did a good job . . . even if he did have a French accent. :)


Dustincecil | 178 comments I thought he was heavy in the book, because his initial description reminded me of the brother in Harry Crews' " the gospel singer".


ALLEN | 138 comments I stand corrected. Certainly actor Lothaire Bluteau is on the slim side, and being French Canadian he speaks with a French accent.


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