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 ...
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 decaying mansion in rural Alabama, his father is nowhere to be found. Instead, Joel meets his morose stepmother, Amy, eccentric cousin Randolph, and a defiant little girl named Idabel, who soon offers Joel the love and approval he seeks. Fueled by a world-weariness that belied Capote's tender age, this novel tempers its themes of waylaid hopes and lost innocence with an appreciation for small pleasures and the colorful language of its time and place. This new edition, featuring an enlightening Introduction by John Berendt, offers readers a fresh look at Capote's emerging brilliance as a writer of protean power and effortless grace.
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This was the book that made Truman Capote's initial reputation, and it has enjoyed a revival with all the films about Capote's In Cold Blood period. Unfortunately, it's one of those books that doesn't look quite so good in retrospect. It starts off fascinatingly, but then deteriorates into what nowadays looks like stereotyped Southern Gothic. Weird characters, weird settings, weird events, extremely unlikely coincidences, and dream sequences that increasingly don't get differentiated from "real" experience. By the end of the book the whole thing is pretty much a mess. Interesting to read as a period piece, but nowadays we wonder "What got everyone so excited about this the first time around?"
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