Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote

Truman Capote, you flamboyant hot mess, you. I read and loved In Cold Blood years ago, and it's taken me this long to pick up, Other Voices, Other Rooms. It's not Truman's fault. Totally mine. 

Joel Knox is a shy kid. His mother is gone, and he's sent from New Orleans to the enigmatic and crumbling mansion, Skully's Landing, to live with his father. But where the hell is his father? His cousin, Randolph, and his stepmother, Amy, are weird birds and they aren't coughing up any answers. Joel soon finds himself enamored of the mysteries surrounding Skully's Landing as well as a tomboyish girl named Idabel. And did I mention the ghostly figure in the window? What Southern Gothic tale is complete without one of those?

I loved quite a few things about this novel, and I had quibbles with a few, too. Let's start with love...

The setting was sumptuous and atmospheric and just absolutely kickass. I loved the tangible feel of the place. The murky woods, the mosquito-laden bogs, a crumbling hotel, the mysterious mansion. It just doesn't get any better than that. 

The characters were lovely and mysterious, too. Joel was charming in his cluelessness. Randolph and Amy have their own mysteries. Joel becomes fast friends with a troubled young servant girl named Zoo, not to mention Idabel and her neurotic sister, Florabel. While the characters added to the overall atmosphere of the story, they were caricatures at times. Though, that really didn't bother me. 

And now for quibbles...

While I enjoyed the tone of the novel most of the way through, there's a portion at the end that went ape-shit crazy. Joel falls ill, and that period of time felt like a bit of an acid trip. Totally surreal, yo. While I can appreciate a turn like this in the novel, as it led to some realizations and character reform, it was a little too out there at times. Over the top. 

This is an important work in LGBTQ literature, and while I didn't have that in my mind for a good portion of the novel, it does become way obvious by the end. Once I had that concept in my head (call me flaky, I just wasn't thinking about it early on), I can definitely see how this novel would've rocked some boats upon publication. Not to mention that sexay author photo of the 23-year-old Capote, right? Here's the pic in its entirety. 



Oh, Truman, you showman. In short, I'm glad I read this one. I liked the writing style, the feel of it, but it just got a little convoluted at the end. Try it anyway!

Pub. Date: Originally 1948
Publisher: Vintage
Format: Trade Paperback
ISBN: 0679745645 
Source: Bought it!


26 comments:

  1. It sounds like it's well worth reading! I've only read 2 of his books - In Cold Blood and Breakfast at Tiffany's.

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    1. I just loved In Cold Blood, and I haven't read Breakfast at Tiffany's yet. That one is up next. :)

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  2. I loved In Cold Blood so much - that book rocked! So, I did buy more Capote books, I just haven't read them as of yet. I do have Other Voices, Other Rooms and from what you wrote it definitely sounds like an interesting read. Its disappointing that the ending doesn't really work out, but I'm definitely eager to read the book. And, that photo - wow! Talk about sexing it up for the camera :)

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    1. I loved it, too! I read it one sweltering summer in the pool. If it'd be a creepy winter vibe outside it probably would've scared me. The end would probably work better for me if I read through it again. It was just discombobulating at the time because I wasn't expecting all the surrealism all of a sudden. lol

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  3. I really should read more Capote. I loved In Cold Blood and have read a handful of short stories but nothing more. I actually haven't heard of this one! But love the "sumptuous and atmospheric" descriptors.

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    1. It was really good! I snagged it after I read In Cold Blood (years ago), so it's kind of pitiful that it took me this long to read it!

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  4. I'll have to give Capote a try!

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    1. Definitely! His writing is great, in this one and In Cold Blood.

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  5. My Capote count is at . . . zero. I bought In Cold Blood years ago to impress a dude who claimed it was one of his favorites (I think he actually stole that off someone else's AIM profile or something), but I'm pretty sure I eventually donated it unread. Will have to give him a go!

    And I love reading books deemed controversial back in the day, just to see how they compare to modern sensibilities. I read Pamela Moore's Chocolates For Breakfast last year and yeah, a little rowdy . . . but nothing too crazy. Interesting!

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    1. Oh no! In Cold Blood really is good. It's oddly poetic and lovely for such a gruesome topic.

      It is fun to compare what was considered scandalous then vs. now. This one is pretty tame overall, but I can see where some of the LGBTQ elements would've caused a stir.

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  6. I definitely need to read this one soon! I loved Breakfast at Tiffany's and need to re-read In Cold Blood (when I am not living in a house all by myself). Thanks!

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    1. I can't wait to read Breakfast at Tiffany's! And yes, living alone + In Cold Blood = nightmares.

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  7. I need to read more Capote too. I loved Breakfast at Tiffany's and his Christmas stories, but that's all I've read. Maybe I'll read this one sometime soon.

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    1. I think you'd like this one, Heather. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed In Cold Blood. It's not like we consider "true crime" now. It's awesomely poetically written.

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  8. I should add this to my list. I don't think I can do In Cold Blood. I loved Breakfast at Tiffany's though. You should read that one, if you haven't.

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    1. In Cold Blood was pretty damn creepy in spots. Moreso because it was the truth (insofar as it can be through Capote's pen). I will definitely read Breakfast at Tiffany's!

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  9. You NEED to read Breakfast at Tiffany's!

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    1. You're right! I think I'll look for a copy the next time I'm in the bookstore.

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  10. I've read no Capote. Sounds like I'm missing out!

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    1. You totally are! I really think you'd like him.

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  11. Yep that picture is hot baby. :) This sounds fantastic. Capote is one of those authors I keep meaning to read.

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    1. Capote is a character himself which makes his writing all the more interesting. Good stuff!

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  12. It sounds like this would be a good one to read with To Kill a Mockingbird since the neighbor boy in Harper Lee's book is based on Truman Capote. As I recall, the two grew up together more-or-less.

    And I'd love a good reason to re-read To Kill a Mockingbird...

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  13. I have Capote on my reading list. Just not this one, but I'll for sure consider it.

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  14. A couple years ago I visited the To Kill a Mockingbird Museum in Monroeville, AL. There's a Truman Capote exhibit in the same museum and after touring it I bought a copy of this. Of course I haven't read it yet, but it's high on my list!

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  15. Okay, okay, I'm in! Breakfast at Tiffany's was great and it sounds like I can't miss if I pick up more of his work!

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