Other Voices, Other Rooms (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 27 May 2004
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"Truman Capote is the most perfect writer of my generation."-NORMAN MAILER
About the Author
Truman Capote was born in New Orleans in 1925. He left school at fifteen and subsequently worked for the New Yorker - which provided his first - and last - regular job. He wrote Other Voices, Other Rooms while working on a Louisiana farm in the late 1940s. Truman Capote died in 1984
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This really immerses you in the world of rural Alabama:
'Deep in the hollow, dark syrup crusted the bark of vine-roped sweetgums; like pale apple leaves green witch butterflies sank and rose; a breezy lane of trumpet lilies beckoned like hands lace-gloved and ghostly.'
The boy encounters a weird household- father ill in bed, strange stepmother and Cousin Randolph (an Oscar Wilde type character.) He befriends the house servant and Idabel, a local tomboy with her own issues.
Then the latter part of the book becomes hard to follow, but we see Joel starting to come to terms with his homosexuality.
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.
This is a short novel at less than two-hundred pages, but each page is brimming with richly poetic language that brilliantly evokes the Gothic splendour of the Deep South. Characters and landscapes are conjured into life with powerful immediacy. Capote's words shimmer on the page, and I soon found myself hearing what I read in a luxuriant southern American drawl. This is a novel to be savoured for its ambitious, exuberant language, and it flows over the imagination like thick rounded syrup.
Read this, and immerse yourself in the mystical world of America's Deep South...
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