This is a curious book, chosen from a long list of novels for the study block ahead why the University stopped calling them terms, puzzles me. I have been meaning to read Capote for a long while. More known for his non-fiction work, this little novel intrigued me. Other Voices, Other Rooms tells the story of Joel Knox, a year-old boy who is displaced when his mother dies, and his father calls him to move to rural Alabama to be with him. Knox travels across the country, to a rambling house, without seeing his father. His stepmother, Amy, is not particularly welcoming, but it is her, and her cousin, Rudolph that he spends time with.
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Other Voices, Other Rooms , Truman Capote 's first book, remained on the New York Times bestseller list for nine weeks, a remarkable achievement for such an unconventional work. In its probing psychological insights into previously tabooed areas, the story was, in Capote's words, "an attempt to exorcise demons. Other Voices, Other Rooms is an initiation story. Joel Knox, a troubled year-old whose mother has died recently, is invited to live with his father on an old plantation called Skully's Landing.
Struggling to form his adult identity, Joel still seeks "the far-away room," a world of his imagination, even though as he grows older he finds it more and more inaccessible. One of the characters in that room is the father he has never known—a father he imagines is courageous and strong. But the handsome imaginary man who buys his son a. Joel's initiation into adulthood is further complicated by adult deceptions. The invitation that brings him to the Landing is a ruse perpetrated by his father's second wife and her cousin Randolph.
Joel tries to hang onto previously instilled values, but ultimately his initial instinct to reject the decadence of Skully's Landing is replaced by an acceptance of it. Another complicating factor in Joel's passage to adulthood is his struggle with his sexual identity.
Early in the story Radclif, the truck driver who takes Joel to Noon City, thinks the boy lacks masculinity and questions the flowery, dainty handwriting on the letter supposedly from Joel's father: "What the hell kind of man would write like that?
Ultimately Joel cannot fill a conventional male role, and it is suggested that he only discovers his true identity when he accepts his homosexuality, for then "he knew who he was. Although Capote denies being a regionalist, Other Voices, Other Rooms nevertheless bears a strong resemblance to writings of the southern Gothic tradition. He uses the American South's deteriorating plantation houses and ghost-haunted sense of a former life to evoke that brooding and terrifying atmosphere common to the Gothic novel.
Each year the plantation house sinks several inches into the marsh, and to Joel the house emits "settling sighs of stone and board, as though the old rooms inhaled-exhaled constant wind. Joel observes "luminous green logs that shine under the dark marsh water like drowned corpses. A little over a decade before Other Voices, Other Rooms was published, Ellen Glasgow complained of writers such as Erskine Caldwell and William Faulkner , who she felt overemphasized degeneracy and "fantastic abominations.
Like Caldwell and Faulkner, Capote creates several grotesque characters as part of the southern ambience of his short work: the owner of R. Lacey's Princely Place with her single, antennalike hair growing from a facial mole; the gnomelike Jesus Fever, who, asleep at the reins, drives Joel to Skully's Landing; the congregation of town loafers that look "like a gang of desperadoes in a Western picture-show"; and Miss Wisteria, the love-thwarted carnival dwarf who weeps "to think little boys must grow tall.
With Cousin Randolph, however, Capote takes the grotesque character further than his predecessors. Although Randolph's affectations immediately qualify him as another of the grotesques filling Joel's view of the southern landscape, his importance in the boy's development transforms him from simply part of the bizarre scenery into a figure whom Joel eventually embraces for the love he has failed to find elsewhere.
Randolph's decadence complements the decadent setting. His world-weary languid manner, manicured toenails, "silver-tongued" flattery, and caustic sarcasm are reminiscent of Oscar Wilde.
His bedroom, which he terms "a rather gaudy grave," is closed off from natural light. Eventually we learn that he is the mysterious person dressed like an eighteenth-century French countess standing in the plantation window, whose identity puzzles Joel. Whereas Faulkner and Caldwell might have created a bizarre character and even might have described the person with compassion, they would maintain a distance from him, just as Capote's protagonist does early in the story. But Capote's fiction differs from earlier works in that Joel eventually accepts and chooses to participate in the grotesque world, the world of "other voices, other rooms.
Moreover, his decision is described in affirmative terms. The relationship of Randolph and Joel clarifies one of the major themes of the story and of other Capote works: that "love, having no geography, knows no boundaries…. Any love is natural and beautiful that lies within a person's nature.
Capote suggests what William Van O'Connor says is the propensity of the writer of the grotesque to find the sublime in "weirdly distorted images. Perhaps he accepts him because Randolph sits faithfully by the boy's bedside during a long illness. At any rate Randolph becomes the answer to Joel's prayer, "God, let me be loved. Other Voices, Other Rooms is powered by Capote's intense private vision.
In identifying influences on this particular piece of short fiction, Capote himself stressed that "the real progenitor was my difficult, subterranean self. As he said of it, "The book set me free. Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. May 23, Retrieved May 23, from Encyclopedia.
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Other Voices, Other Rooms
Other Voices, Other Rooms is significant because it is both Capote's first published novel and semi-autobiographical. Truman Capote began writing the manuscript for Other Voices, Other Rooms after being inspired by a walk in the woods while he was living in Monroeville, Alabama. After leaving Alabama, he continued to work on the manuscript in New Orleans, Louisiana. His budding literary fame put him in touch with fellow southerner and writer Carson McCullers. Capote continued to work on the novel in North Carolina and eventually completed it in a rented cottage in Nantucket, Massachusetts. After his mother's death, year-old Joel Harrison Knox, a lonely, effeminate boy, is sent from New Orleans, Louisiana , to live with his father, who abandoned him at the time of his birth. Arriving at Skully's Landing, a vast, decaying mansion on an isolated plantation in Mississippi, Joel meets his sullen stepmother Amy, Amy's cousin Randolph, a gay man and dandy , the defiant tomboy Idabel, a girl who becomes his friend, and Jesus and Zoo, the two black caretakers of the home.
Other Voices, Other Rooms Summary
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