Tag Archives: Book Club

Review: Other Voices, Other Rooms

Other Voices, Other Rooms

Other Voices, Other Rooms
By Truman Capote
(Penguin Books, Limited (UK), Paperback, 9780141187655)

The Short of It:

I have a thing for stories set in dusty little towns and this story is full of flawed characters and crazy happenings.

The Rest of It:

From Indiebound:

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.

I’ve read Capote before (Breakfast at Tiffany’s, In Cold Blood and a few of his short stories) so when the book club I belong to selected it for June, I was glad. So far, everything he’s written I’ve enjoyed and I’m happy to say that the same can be said for Other Voices, Other Rooms.

This is a satisfying read and gives you plenty to think about. A perfect book to discuss with a group. Its collection of odd characters and the feverish hallucinations of Joel made me question many times if some of the strange happenings actually happened at all.

Joel’s future in this town seems bleak. Skully’s Landing is a dusty, dreary, dead-end town. It’s not so much a destination as a place where people just end up but its inhabitants lend it a certain charm. I use the term loosely because the characters are not charming but in fact, a product of their surroundings.

One of my favorite characters is Idabel, supposedly modeled after Capote’s real-life friend, Harper Lee. She’s a tomboy, pegged as trouble by the townspeople but full of personality.

This novel is many things. It could be called a coming-of-age novel or a book about self-acceptance or perhaps an exploration into gender identity. Whatever it is, it’s rich and atmospheric and yes, a little strange but in a good way.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: TransAtlantic

Transatlantic
TransAtlantic

By Colum McCann
(Random House Trade Paperbacks, Paperback, 9780812981926, May 2014, 336pp.)

The Short of It:

Non-fiction elements mingle with fiction in this Irish-American tale which begins in 1919 with the first nonstop transatlantic flight.

The Rest of It:

If you’ve read McCann’s work before, you may recognize the format of this novel, which feels like a collection of interconnected stories. The story opens with Alcock and Brown’s first transatlantic flight from Newfoundland to County Galway. Their mission is riddled with challenges, of which, eventually lead to a crash landing. From the title, you’d think that the book is about this trip alone but no, after just a short section on the flight itself, McCann moves on with his story which focuses on Frederick Douglass’s visit to Ireland just as the Great Famine begins to fully take its hold. From there, we meet Lily Duggan, a maid who is inspired to create a new life for herself in America.

This story spans many years and goes back and forth as it’s told and I know for some, including myself, this doesn’t always work for me. In fact, as soon as I realized I’d be jumping back and forth in time, I audibly groaned. But honestly, McCann’s handles it so well, that it never seemed to bother me at all and his style of writing, which consists of short, clipped, sentences made the reading experience quite a pleasant one. His writing creates a sense of urgency which gives the story that “unputdownable” quality that so many of us look for in a book.

There’s a little bit of history, which prompted many in my book club to look up additional information and the fictional parts were well-done and engaging. I read it in just one sitting, which is not something I often do but the story is constructed in such a way that it’s hard to find a good place to set the book down. A good problem to have, if you ask me.

Have you read Transatlantic? It came out some time ago and I immediately added it to my Kindle after reading Let The Great World Spin, but for some reason it just sat there, unread.  Such a shame because I really enjoyed it.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.