Book Review: Other Voices, Other Rooms

Plot:

Published when Truman Capote was only twenty-three years old, Other Voices, Other Rooms is a literary touchstone of the mid-twentieth century. In this semiautobiographical coming-of-age novel, thirteen-year-old Joel Knox, after losing his mother, is sent from New Orleans to live with the father who abandoned him at birth. But when Joel arrives at Skully’s Landing, the decaying mansion in rural Alabama, his father is nowhere to be found. Instead, Joel meets his morose stepmother, Amy, eccentric cousin Randolph, and a defiant little girl named Idabel, who soon offers Joel the love and approval he seeks.

Fueled by a world-weariness that belied Capote’s tender age, this novel tempers its themes of waylaid hopes and lost innocence with an appreciation for small pleasures and the colorful language of its time and place.

This new edition, featuring an enlightening Introduction by John Berendt, offers readers a fresh look at Capote’s emerging brilliance as a writer of protean power and effortless grace.

Review:

Capote was only 23-24 when he wrote it, and yet he exists in two of its autobiographical characters — Joel, the young teenager, and his uncle Randolph, the theatrical, narcissistic, unstable alcoholic that prefigures the role Capote would play in his own life. Or so it struck me.

Other Voices, Other Rooms is a coming-of-age novel but I felt there was no real plot or point; I struggled to understand what was happening for half the novel. I’d finally feel I got to grips with it and understood what was happening, only to turn the page and feel lost all over again. I feel like this novel was meant to be a profound piece of literature but it felt a bit like Capote tried too hard, tried to be too poetic and mysterious and totally lost me, as a reader, along the way.

1/5 Stars

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