Top positive review
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on 12 August 2011
Following the death of his mother, thirteen year old Joel Knox travels to Alabama to live with his estranged father in a large, remote and decaying house where also live his step mother and cousin Randolph. He has never meet his father, and it seems upon arrival that he is not likely to meet him soon either, but that is just one of the many mysteries that will trouble young Joel, who is fast beginning to think is move South is at best a disaster, and at worst a betrayal.
But he finds friends in the form of a neighbour the rough and ready young tomboy Idabel, in Zoo the black help, and a black hermit who works charms. But he is also drawn to homosexual cousin Randolph; and his somewhat girlish good looks enamour him to most of those he meets.
Other Voices, Other Rooms is a beautiful story, as much from the way it is told as its content, rich in remarkable and imaginative metaphors that create a steamy atmosphere of the hot South; subtle in its depiction of the coming Joel's awareness of homosexuality; and full of insight - it is a most moving and captivating read, all the more remarkable considering the young age of its author, his first book.
This Penguin Classics 2004 edition contains an interesting introduction by John Berendt which adds much to our understanding of the novel, not least of which is its autobiographical content.