Other Voices, Other Rooms

Other Voices, Other Rooms

by Truman Capote

Published when Truman Capote was only twenty-three years old, Other Voices, Other Rooms is a literary touchstone of the mid-twentieth century.

But when Joel arrives at Skullys Landing, the decaying mansion in rural Alabama, his father is nowhere to be found.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Fiction
  • Rating: 3.81
  • Pages: 232
  • Publish Date: February 1st 1994 by Vintage
  • Isbn10: 0679745645
  • Isbn13: 9780679745648

Read the Book "Other Voices, Other Rooms" Online

As a kind of subversion of the coming-of-age novel, though, neither the story nor the protagonist's character arc are all that important: Joel doesn't change over the course of the narrative so much as he changes how he feels about what he already is at its start.

Although Other Voices, Other Rooms doesnt feature anything supernatural or otherworldly it boasts an enchantingly morose Gothic attitude. And as every Gothic novel should do Other Voices, Other Rooms contains a dire secret.

This is semi-autobiographical because what he wrote was mostly based on his actual experiences in Monroeville, Alabama where he grew up with the 1961 Pulitzer winner, Harper Lee, author of the modern classic To Kill a Mockingbird. Harper Lee's character called Dill was based on Truman as a boy and Capote's Idabel Thompkins in this book was based on the tomboyish Harper Lee when she was a young girl. After 13 years, Harper Lee came up with her only novel To Kill a Mockingbird and it did not only win her a Pulitzer but also the hearts of many people around the world. This book may not have made an impact as strong as Mockingbird but Capote's writing is as good, if not even better, than Harper Lee's. Before seeing his father, he meets all the other people in the town including the sisters Florabel and Idabel Thompkins. My favorite scene is one of those first few encounters of Joel Knox (Capote) and Idabel Thompkins (Harper Lee).

Rereading it now, I find such self-deception unpardonable.--Truman Capote, The Dogs Bark, New York, Random House, 1973 First Edition Having just re-read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, I returned to Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote, her childhood friend. I first read Capote's debut novel for Professor O.B. Emerson's Southern Literature Class in 1973 at the University of Alabama. In Capote, biographer Gerald Clarkesaid the novel surpassed Gothic and referred to it as "Swamp Baroque." Thirteen Joel Harrison Knox is cast adrift when his mother dies. While staying with relatives in New Orleans, Joel is shocked to receive a letter in spidery red ink on green stationery from his father, along with funds to travel to his home in Scully's Landing near Noon City, Alabama. Randolph dominates Amy as he owns the house in which she and Joel's father live. At various times, Joel sees a woman appear at the windows of the home, dressed in a white gown, her hair falling in long curling ringlets. This is not what Joel had expected, although he had written to one of his friends that his father was tall, smoked a pipe and knew all about airplanes. And, just as Capote served Harper Lee as model for Dill Harris, we find a young Harper Lee serving as model for Idabel Thompkins, a tomboy who refuses to wear girl's clothing, but would prefer to romp through the woods, swamps, fishing and skinny dipping. Other Voices, Other Rooms is deeply introspective, exploring themes of the nature of love, isolation, and the search for family, which appears repeatedly in Capote's other works. First Edition, Random House, New York, 1948 Reaction among literary critics in New York were largely unfavorable, with the exception of the review appearing in the New York Herald. Capote responded that the photograph had been a candid shot taken by Halma and that he had not posed for the picture which was patently untrue. While Capote was young, only twenty-three at the time of the novel's publication, he was of no danger to the ladies Halma had overheard. Capote fell out of that relationship into another with literary critic Newton Arvin, to whom Other Voices, Other Rooms Capote dedicated the novel.

During a recent re-read of To Kill a Mockingbird I learned that Harper Lee and Truman Capote were childhood friends and that each of them had based a character in their novels on each other. (I didn't feel this way at all about the characters in Capote's second published novel, The Grass Harp. I was much more impressed by the "realness" and believability of the characters in that novel.) I also think this novel suffers a bit from Truman Capote being a precocious 23 year old and trying a bit too hard to impress with bells and whistles in his language.

The only drawback to this book, his first novel, is that he assumed I understood where he was going at every turn, and I didnt.

I suppose I considered it well written, and wanted to read everything Capote had done, as I really loved IN COLD BLOOD, and was fascinated by the little man with the squeaky voice that I saw on television. Reading between the lines after knowing a little about his life, now makes this not just a novel from gifted author, but an explanation of the man he became in later years.

In this story, Truman Capote's Idabel Thompkins is the young Harper Lee, just as Lee's Dill is the young Capote in To Kill a Mockingbird. What adjectives best describe this book? Ordinary characters are as foreign to this book as night is to day. The central character, Joel Knox, is thirteen. His aunt has sent him to his father, who abandoned mother and son soon after Joels birth.

Capote's command and use of language and style is unquestionably brilliant, and many times the text reads like poetry. Capote also has the gift that many writers lack and that is a descriptive prowess that completely surrounds the reader and engulfs them in the world of the text. Joel's interpretations of the world are oftentimes not concrete, or even accurate, and this is where the adult reader will find themselves at moments confused.

Truman Capote was an American writer whose non-fiction, stories, novels and plays are recognised literary classics, including the novella Breakfast at Tiffany's (1958) and In Cold Blood (1965), which he labeled a "non-fiction novel." At least 20 films and TV dramas have been produced from Capote novels, stories and screenplays. During this time, he also began his career as a writer, publishing many short stories which introduced him into a circle of literary critics.