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:
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.
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