Book Review: Other Voices, Other Rooms
Book Title: Other Voices, Other Rooms
Author: Truman Capote
Review: At age 24 Truman Capote had already began to achieve some fame. He had published an earlier works that led to his recognition as a new American voice and a Southern writer in the tradition of Tennessee Williams and William Faulkner. Benet Cerf from Random House provided an advance to produce a novel and the result was Other Voices, Other Rooms, a semi-autobiographical reflection on Capote’s Alabama childhood. Does this book still speak to us today 67 years after publication? Do people still struggle to form meaningful identity and find self-acceptance? A simple answer is yes.
The book opens on 13-year-old Joel Knox. Following the death of his mother, Joel is sent from New Orleans to live with his father who had abandoned him at birth. His father lives at Skully's Landing, a decaying mansion in very rural Alabama.
Here is Capote’s description of Joel’ sitting in the mansion’s kitchen: “The fire had waned to ashes, and, while the old broken clock ticked like an invalid heart, the sunspots on the floor spread and darkened; the shadows of the fig leaves trellising the walls swelled to an enormous quivering shape, like the crystal flesh of a jellyfish. Flies skittered along the table, rubbing their restless hair-feet, and zoomed and sang around Joel’s ears.”
By books end, Joel finds his destiny, and comes to accept his outsider status. He will always hear other voices and live in other rooms, to be both outside of society and to be liberated from its demands. He can say, "I am me" and be at peace with his own identity. How this happens is the core of a book still worth reading today.
Reviewed by: Ken R.
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