Friday, June 6, 2008

Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote

Well, I'm a little late with the May selection for the Year of Reading Dangerously. I read it during May, but I haven't had time to get something posted until now. I don't feel as if I'll do it justice since it's been a little while. But, I'll give it a shot. If you're interested in what others thought about the book, take a look at the review site.

This book is semi-autobiographical. Capote wrote this novel when he was very young -- around 22 (I think), and it has all the characteristics of good Southern Lit. According to Maggie, it passes the true test -- "the dead mule." I'm also using this one for her Southern Reading Challenge. The story begins with 13-year old Joel Knox trying to deal with the loss of his mother. He's been living with his aunt since his mother's death, but his estranged father has now summoned him to come live with him in New Orleans. Joel is excited to meet his father, but things certainly don't turn out the way he envisions them. If you're not familiar with Southern Lit., happy endings can be rare.

After a long journey in which Joel has to catch a ride with a stranger and then make his way to Skully's Landing on the back of a wagon in the middle of the night, he's disappointed when his father isn't there to meet him. Instead, he meets his stepmother, Amy and Zoo Fever, the family's servant. In fact, it will be quite a long while before he meets his father. Everyone ignores his questions about his father. The only evidence that there is anyone else in the house is a 'knocking' sound and a red tennis ball that occasionally bounces down the stairs.

Everyone in the story is damaged in some way -- physically, mentally or emotionally. Zoo bears a long scar across her neck, but it's not this physical scar that torments her. Instead, it's the emotional one that accompanies it. She is crippled by fear of what may happen to her. Other characters that are out of the ordinary include, a midget with an apparent tendency towards pedophilia, a recluse with special healing powers, a tomboy (Joel's only friend) with an anger management problem, and the flamboyant Cousin Randolph who is eating and drinking himself to death as he pines over his one true love.

I enjoyed this story a great deal. I think this is a wonderful first novel that showcases a talent that was truly extraordinary. I'm glad I read this one.


Nymeth said...

About it being semi-autobiographical, did you know that Idabel is supposedly based on Harper Lee?

I'm glad you enjoyed this one :) I love Capote, and this is no exception.

____Maggie said...

You are all ready for the dead mule contest! Remember what page it is on and how he dies, please.

I'm not sure yet how to do this contest. So many will run across the mule in the same books. I was going to quote Mudbound then I thought I would be taking away someone elses chance to participate since I gave the one example they may find. Make any sense?

Maybe I should make it a haint/dead mule scavenger hunt? Any ideas would be appreciated. ;)

I'm glad you read and wrote about this book, too! Now, I want it! ;D

Literary Feline said...

I would like to read something else by Capote other than the one I have read, In Cold Blood. This does sound good. The scar around the girl's neck reminds me of the book I just started today which is about a woman who was born with a terrible looking birthmark.

Andi said...

Yours is probably the most positive review I've read of the book. Maybe I'll like it after all! I'm looking forward to catching up on my own challenge (sad) when school starts back for the fall. Pitiful to have to start back to a full schedule to get more free time, eh?

Lisa said...

nymeth, I didn't read anywhere that Idabel was based on Lee, but I did wonder. I'm really glad I read this one.

Lisa said...

maggie, you're contest was the first thing I thought of when I read that portion of the book. It was truly surreal. Sorry, I can't really think of any suggestions for the contest, but I know you'll come up with something fun!

literary feline, In Cold Blood is the one book that Capote's known for, and I haven't read it, yet. My husband loved it. Have you seen the Capote movie, which deals mostly with him writing that book? It was really good.

andi, Yeah I did like this book. It's not perfect -- it did get a little confusing in the middle portion. But, I think he does that on purpose because that is exactly the way Joel feels. I know exactly what you mean about having more reading time when you're on a schedule. I don't do well at all when I don't have a schedule to keep me on track. I get less of everything done when I'm out of work.

rohit said...

An enjoyable read Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote . loved the way you wrote it. I find your review very genuine and original, this book is going in by "to read" list.