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Other Voices, Other Rooms Paperback – International Edition, February 1, 1994

90 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


 “Intense, brilliant . . . .  Capote has an astonishing command . . . a magic all his own.” —The Atlantic

“Truman Capote is the most perfect writer of my generation.” —Norman Mailer

“Dazzling.” —Chicago Tribune

About the Author

TRUMAN CAPOTE was born September 30, 1924, in New Orleans. After his parents’ divorce, he was sent to live with relatives in Monroeville, Alabama. It was here he would meet his lifelong friend, the author Harper Lee. With the 1948 publication of Other Voices, Other Rooms, Capote was catapulted onto the international literary scene and for nearly four decades was a fixture in New York literati and high society circles. Twice awarded the O. Henry Short Story Prize, Capote was also the recipient of a National Institute of Arts and Letters Creative Writing Award and an Edgar Award. Among his many celebrated works are the short-story collection The Grass Harp, the novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the memoirs A Christmas Memory and The Thanksgiving Visitor, and the true-crime masterpiece In Cold Blood. Capote died in 1984, just weeks shy of his sixtieth birthday.

JOHN BERENDT is the New York Times bestselling author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. His work has also appeared in Esquire and New York, where he was also an editor. He lives in New York City.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 5th or later Edition edition (February 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679745645
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679745648
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #87,075 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Truman Capote was born in New Orleans in 1925 and was raised in various parts of the south, his family spending winters in New Orleans and summers in Alabama and New Georgia. By the age of fourteen he had already started writing short stories, some of which were published. He left school when he was fifteen and subsequently worked for the New Yorker which provided his first - and last - regular job. Following his spell with the New Yorker, Capote spent two years on a Louisiana farm where he wrote Other Voices, Other Rooms (1948). He lived, at one time or another, in Greece, Italy, Africa and the West Indies, and travelled in Russia and the Orient. He is the author of many highly praised books, including A Tree of Night and Other Stories (1949), The Grass Harp (1951), Breakfast at Tiffany's (1958), In Cold Blood (1965), which immediately became the centre of a storm of controversy on its publication, Music for Chameleons (1980) and Answered Prayers (1986), all of which are published by Penguin. Truman Capote died in August 1984.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

75 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Mazza HALL OF FAME on August 16, 2002
Format: Paperback
Truman Capote's novel "Other Voices, Other Rooms" opens with the main character, 13-year old Joel Harrison Knox, traveling to the home of his long-estranged father. As the book progresses, Joel becomes more intimately involved with the people of his father's household and of the larger community; there is a stress on oral history as Joel learns their stories. Overall, plot struck me as secondary to character revelation.
The people of Joel's new world are colorful, often pathetic, and sometimes grotesque; at times it really feels like Capote is putting on a human freak show for the thrill-seeking reader. He leads us through a world of decaying old buildings and broken spirits. But Capote always respects the essential humanity of his troubled characters.
There is a pronounced theme of alternative sexuality and/or gender identity throughout the book. Capote establishes this theme early on in his description of the main character. Joel is described as not looking like a "'real' boy": "He was too pretty, too delicate and fair-skinned." "Other Voices" thus has a lot to offer readers with an interest in gender issues as they have been explored in American literature. Capote also does an interesting job of portraying a mixed-race household where the African-American servants are as vividly drawn as the Caucasian family members.
Throughout the book there is some richly descriptive language, as well as intriguing representations of American vernacular English. Although at times "Other Voices" seems more an exercise in style than a fully satisfying narrative, it is for me quite a remarkable coming-of-age story.
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful By John Sollami on November 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
Published in January 1948 and Capote's second novel (but the first to reach print), this still engaging work was a sensation and best seller that year and has been in print ever since. Like Capote himself, it's one of a kind. A misfit young boy, Joel Knox, the product of a broken home (as was Capote), travels from New Orleans to the backwater town of Noon City, Mississippi in search of his unknown father. After twelve years of separation, his father has supposedly written to Joel's loving aunt in New Orleans and wants Joel back. But Joel, longing for his father's love, finds himself in the decaying hothouse home of his stepmother, Miss Amy, and his clever and perverse cousin Randolph, their black "maid" Zoo, and Zoo's ancient father Jesus Fever. Joel's father is in the house too, but not in the form he anticipated. Two local girls, Florabel and the wild tomboy Idabel, round out the players and are Joel's allies in a threatening world of perversity, mental instability, and sexual ambiguity. Even though he was just 23 when he finished this work, Capote displays tremendous inventiveness, narrative talent, and over-the-top imagery. A coming-of-age story, this work gushes southern atmosphere and contains, in Capote's own words, "a certain anguished, pleading intensity like the message stuffed in a bottle and thrown into the sea." It also is semi-autobiographical, "an attempt to exorcise demons," although Capote claimed many years later that he was unconscious of this when he wrote it. On another level, this work is also about the elusive search for the father, and the discovery that one is all alone, seeking to feel that "everything is going to be all right." As a post-war novel, "Other Voices, Other Rooms" found an audience longing for the same thing, seeking the safety of a benevolent father in a perverse world, and wanting to grow up and find itself.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 30, 1998
Format: Paperback
This haunting first novel of Truman Capote is a brilliant work. It is a story of youth alienation and coming of age that could be the male companion piece to Carson McCuller's "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter." The story is told in a beautifully lyric style. It follows young Joel after his mother has died when he is sent to live with his father that he has never known. Capote paints a vivid picture of the eccentric family of which Joel finds himself a part. Joel desperately tries to find his way in a world that makes little sense. Capote is a master at making depravity beautiful and haunting without losing the sense of corruption or sugar coating the sadness. He delivers a novel that will forever live with the reader as a voice in the rooms of the soul. It is an exquisitely sad voice but not one that should ever be silenced.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A.J. on April 7, 2005
Format: Paperback
I don't profess to know exactly what constitutes the literary genre called Southern Gothic, but Truman Capote's "Other Voices, Other Rooms," an ominous and vaguely creepy tale set in the rural deep South of the 1930s, seems to point in its general direction. The author paints a broad canvas of easily identifiable motifs: swamps simmering in the humidity, snakes slithering through decaying plantations and abandoned hotels from a bygone era, overgrown weeds in neglected gardens, haunted ponds, voodoo charms, carnival freaks, garishly decorated interiors, loudly ticking parlor clocks, brain-damaged invalids confined to stuffy bedrooms. The mood is so perfectly established that the skeletons in the closet could be literal rather than figurative.

Joel Harrison Knox, a thirteen-year-old boy from New Orleans, is summoned by a letter--written in a suspiciously childish hand--to live with his father Edward Sansom, whom he hasn't seen since birth, and stepmother Amy Skully at her ancestral home called Skully's Landing, which turns out to be a dismal dwelling, a dilapidated antebellum mansion with no indoor plumbing or electricity. The residents, all of whom constantly evade Joel's questions about his absent father's whereabouts, are equally disturbing: Amy, alternately zombie-like and incoherently cranky, seems to be suffering from some form of schizophrenia; her cousin Randolph converses in the theatrically enigmatic manner of a demented circus ringmaster with something sinister up his sleeve; and a fervent black maidservant called Zoo brandishes an awful scar encircling her neck. In addition to all this grotesquerie, one day Joel sees a mysterious white-haired old lady in one of the upper-story windows--a prisoner, or just an apparition?
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