Other Voices, Other Rooms

As the Preface states, Other Voices, Other Rooms (Random House, New York 1948) was Truman Capote's first published attempt to write a novel. His first, called "Summer Crossing," was lost, and how anyone could lose their first novel, I have no idea.

The story is of Joel Knox, a boy about thirteen years old from New Orleans, who receives a letter from his father. The letter tells how his father wants Joel to come to live with him in Paradise Chapel, Louisiana. Joel's mother had died, and when his father found out, he sent for his son. Joel arrives in Paradise Chapel, and he eventually meets all of the many interesting characters. Most of the characters one would almost expect to appear in a small town setting. The first twenty-five pages of this 231-page book are of the trip to Paradise Chapel. Joel does not meet his father until the middle of the book and all of the time in-between, he is staying at the house where his father lives, and, for the most part, just meeting the other characters of the story. When Joel finally does meet his father, he finds out that he is stricken with an unidentified ailment, which has paralyzed his father. Some events occur, the story becomes very abstract and confused, and in the end Joel leaves, matured and grown up a little bit.

This story's theme is how one can age and mature and still be the same person physically, which they started out with. The boy in the story, though thirteen the whole time, grows up during that relatively short period. He is exposed to many different influences which shape his perception of the world and its inhabitants.

My opinion of this book is that it is as if the author really wanted to write a novel, and to get two-hundred plus pages out of it, added more excess material than needed for the relatively simple story. It reads much like a movie, with scenes and time-lapses reminiscent of a feature film. But I would have rather read any book by Mark Twain instead. Although a "quick read," the usage of the English language in this book is not anywhere near the caliber of Twain's , and M.T.'s books offer much more philosophical satisfaction than Other Voices, Other Rooms.

In conclusion, I would like to say that this was a good first try, probably much better than anything I could do, but still not a classic at all. In the future, I will probably not read any more books by Truman Capote. He just doesn't satisfy my expectations regarding printed entertainment.

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