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Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote

Other Voices, Other Rooms (1948)

by Truman Capote

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,995364,803 (3.88)74
  1. 51
    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Othemts)
    Othemts: These books are two sides of the same coin of life in a small Alabama town. Where there's dignity and hope in Mockingbird, Other Voices is decadence and demoralization
  2. 00
    A Visitation of Spirits: A Novel by Randall Kenan (sturlington)
    sturlington: Gay teenagers coming of age in the South.
  3. 11
    The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides (weener)
    weener: Both books with a srong sense of setting, with a sense of foreboding and decay.

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» See also 74 mentions

English (32)  Spanish (2)  Bulgarian (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (36)
Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
For starters, My thanks to the folks at the On the Southern Literary Trail group for giving me the opportunity to read and discuss this and many other fine books.

This is Truman Capote’s first novel and it shows, for reasons both good and bad. On the good side, it shows that, even at the tender age of 23, Capote could didn’t need anywhere near a thousand words to paint a picture. With just half a paragraph he could pluck you out of your easy chair and plop you down beside a dusty country road leading to nowhere. It is easy to see the places that he is describing.

It is also easy to see that much of what he is writing is, if not autobiographical, at least about himself. Readers can, with the clarity of hindsight, sense that many parts of the story were written by a young man struggling to come to terms with an identity that many are reluctant to accept even today. Also evident was his portrayal of the pain and uncertainty of a boy who spent his life being shuttled from one guardian to another. Those familiar with To Kill a Mockingbird might recall the character of Dill who lived just such a life and, like Joel, was prone to telling imaginative tales about his life. For those who don’t know, Harper Lee based the character of Dill on her lifelong friend, Truman capote.

Unfortunately, Capote’s inexperience shows when it comes to the overall story line. While he is incredible at presenting vignettes, in the long run the story bogs down in a surreal mire that cannot decide between southern gothic or decadent drollery. In either case, it isn’t somewhere that you want a plot to stay it.

Bottom line: I’ve read every Capote story ever published and devoured In Cold Blood twice which is fortunate because I have faith in his ability to write. If I didn’t, this might be the first and last Capote novel I ever read. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t read it or that I don’t recommend it. I’m just saying that you should not judge Truman Capote’s career solely on this book. You would be doing a disservice to both him and yourself.
FYI: On a 5-point scale I assign stars based on my assessment of what the book needs in the way of improvements:
*5 Stars – Nothing at all. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
*4 Stars – It could stand for a few tweaks here and there but it’s pretty good as it is.
*3 Stars – A solid C grade. Some serious rewriting would be needed in order for this book to be considered great or memorable.
*2 Stars – This book needs a lot of work. A good start would be to change the plot, the character development, the writing style and the ending.
*1 Star – The only thing that would improve this book is a good bonfire. ( )
  Unkletom | May 17, 2018 |
A dark tale, full of symbolic meaning, densely written like a poem with characters that will remain with you for a long time. Slow reading! ( )
  stef7sa | Jan 5, 2017 |
When his mother dies, 13 year old Joel travels alone to live with his unknown father, and finds an isolated mansion in rural Alabama,

The writing is poetic and has a hallucinatory, dream-like feel as he gets to know the kimono-wearing Randolph who owns the property, and befriends the tomboy Idabel (based on his childhood friend Harper Lee).

Arresting, cinematic southern gothic elements, from the ancient mule-driver Jesus's coffin falling upside down into the grave; Zoo the cook's arbitrary gang- rape as she tries to start a new life; John Brown, the old mule, careering over the banister at the decaying Cloud hotel.

A hazy, powerful rumination on love, experience, regret, memories, time lost, the need to connect with another. As Randolph says, all we want is to be held and for someone to tell us that everything will be alright. ( )
  LARA335 | Aug 6, 2016 |
'as if his heart were beating all over his body, and all undefined whisperings had gathered into one yearning roar'
By sally tarbox on 16 May 2012
Format: Paperback
Exquisite descriptive writing abounds in this short novel, a coming of age tale of 13 year old Joel Knox, sent to live with the father he has never met.
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. ( )
  starbox | Jul 10, 2016 |
Quasi-autobiographical story of a boy growing up and struggling with abandonment issues. Capote oozes angst and searches for acceptance. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
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The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9
For Newton Arvin
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Now a traveler must make his way to Noon City by the best means he can, for there are no buses or trains heading in that direction, though six days a week a truck from the Chuberry Turpentine Company collects mail and supplies in the next-door town of Paradise Chapel: occasionally a person bound for Noon City can catch a ride with the driver of the truck, Same Radclif.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679745645, Paperback)

Truman Capote’s first novel is a story of almost supernatural intensity and inventiveness, an audacious foray into the mind of a sensitive boy as he seeks out the grown-up enigmas of love and death in the ghostly landscape of the deep South.
At the age of twelve, Joel Knox is summoned to meet the father who abandoned him at birth. But when Joel arrives at the decaying mansion in Skully’s Landing, his father is nowhere in sight. What he finds instead is a sullen stepmother who delights in killing birds; an uncle with the face—and heart—of a debauched child; and a fearsome little girl named Idabel who may offer him the closest thing he has ever known to love.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:02 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

12-year-old Joel Knox is summoned to meet the father who abandoned him at birth. But when Joel arrives at the decaying mansion in Skully's Landing, his father is nowhere in sight. What he finds instead is a sullen stepmother who delights in killing birds; an uncle with the face - and heart - of a debauched child; and a fearsome little girl named Idabel who may offer him the closest thing he has ever known to love.… (more)

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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