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Summer Crossing: A Novel (Modern Library Paperbacks) Paperback – June 27, 2006

3.5 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Capote's novel shows the promise of a future master; Campbell's interpretation shows the promise of a good reader. Campbell is better at narration than dialogue as her efforts to differentiate characters, especially males, are forced, and much of her reading is flat or breathy. But she handles some of Capote's best writing with a range and flare that bode well for future audios. Capote told everyone he'd destroyed his earliest effort (produced at age 19), but it recently turned up at Sotheby's, handwritten in four ruled school notebooks. The plot is thin and the characters weak. With her Fifth Avenue Protestant parents off in Europe, 17-year-old Grady rebels by intensifying an affair with and quickly marrying a parking lot attendant from a dysfunctional Brooklyn Jewish family. She soon finds herself pregnant and wallows in regret. But there are glimpses of Capote's signature style that emerged only four years later in Other Voices, Other Rooms, and a hint of Breakfast at Tiffany's' Holly Golightly in the character of Grady McNeil. For Capote mavens—or those whose interest has been piqued by the movie—Summer Crossing is worth a listen. Simultaneous release with the Random House hardcover. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Truman Capote is the most perfect writer of my generation."
-Norman Mailer
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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Library Paperbacks
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library; Reprint edition (June 27, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812975936
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812975932
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #305,969 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.

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Finally we find out why Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow named their daughter "Apple," after the sister of the heroine of Truman Capote's masterful 40s novel SUMMER CROSSING, discovered in a heap of trash by a fellow who moved into Capote's Brooklyn apartment after he vacated for Europe. The Berg Collection at New York's Public Library bought up the manuscript to add to their Capote archive when it presently became available through the trash-seeker's family (together with a whole heap of other manuscripts, letters, family papers, and one complete short story--a lot of unpublished material which makes a trip to the NYPL a must for the Capote fancier). And now his longtime publisher, Random House, has brought out the book to mixed reviews. Well, not everyone gets Truman Capote, and even I, his greatest fan of all times, vacillate like the pingpong of radar between two states of adoration and cold hauteur. Sometimes he writes like the American Proust he said he was, and sometimes he writes like Maya Angelou on one of her greeting cards for Hallmark. Sometimes these disparate effects can be traced within the borders of one sentence. Maybe that's why I like him so much, because he cares about his writing, and yet he really doesn't care about taste.

Some people (like the publishers for example) have said that the heroine of SUMMER CROSSING, Grady McNeil, reminds them of Holly Golightly, that she's an early and inferior sketch for Holly Golightly, who charmed us all in Capote's later BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S. If she's an early sketch for anything, she might be in the running for a proto Kate McCloud. McCloud was to be the heroine of Capote's notorious unfinished novel ANSWERED PRAYERS, and we all know what happened there.
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Format: Hardcover
Like most readers I am reserved, suspect and skeptical of books by famous authors that appear decades after their deaths: these manuscripts which are mysteriously found between the mattresses or squirreled away in a trunk, in a country house where the author once spent a summer vacation. However, "Summer Crossing" is a book that Truman often spoke of.

My understanding is that this was to be his first novel. *"More and more," he wrote, "Summer Crossing seemed to me thin, clever, unfelt. Another language, a secret spititual geography, was burgeoning inside me, taking hold of my nightdream hours as well as my wakeful daydreams." He set it aside and composed "Other Voices, Other Rooms." After the subsequent publication of his story collection "A Tree of Night" and travel essays "Local Color," Truman returned to "Summer Crossing," only to set it aside once again to focus his attention on another short novel "The Grass Harp."

Judging from his own words Capote felt "Summer Crossing" to be unfinished and not at all representational of the standard he aspired to: *"I read it over two or three times, and one day I just decided: I don't really like it. I think it's well written and it's got a lot of style, but I don't really like it. And so I tore it up." Yet, here it is in book form.

I'd love to be able to say Capote was too harsh a critic of his own work. However, it turns out that his assessment was absolute in its accuracy. "Summer Crossing" is a novel not without talent, but without distinction. One fails to hear Capote's voice in this work. It lacks all resonance, and is devoid of those qualities we most treasure in the accomplished and polished works of this author: passion, whimsy, a sense of foreboding and an overriding empathy for his characters.
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Format: Hardcover
I have to confess, first and foremost, that this is the first Truman Capote novel I can recall reading. I've probably partaken in a few of his short stories (not that any particular ones come to mind), but I wasn't sure that qualified me to read and review SUMMER CROSSING, his latest, first, and "lost" novel.

The four notebooks and 62 pages of notes that comprise the manuscript were found in an assortment of boxes that Capote had left behind in a basement apartment in Brooklyn after catapulting to fame with his novel OTHER VOICES, OTHER ROOMS (1948). The house sitter, instructed to put it all out for the garbage, opted instead to hold onto the boxes, and eventually died. His estate, upon opening boxes of letters and writings belonging to Capote, immediately contacted Sotheby's, who got in touch with Alan U. Schwartz, Capote's attorney. Ultimately, the papers were purchased by the New York Public Library to become part of their Truman Capote Papers and, after much rumination and discussion, was decided that SUMMER CROSSING should be published. There is a very good afterword by Schwartz detailing this account and his relationship with Capote that definitely should be included in the reading.

So here is Capote's first novel, begun in 1943 when he is 29, has been a New Yorker since the age of nine, and presumably is working on what would become his first success, the aforementioned OTHER VOICES, OTHER ROOMS. I will tell you that SUMMER CROSSING can be read in probably a little more than (or a little under) an hour, depending upon the reader. There's nothing particularly "heavy" about the book and, in fact, some of it is rather predictable, but I did find myself going back and reading it a second time.
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