Review: Other Voices, Other Rooms

Nathanael Yellis By Nathanael Yellis • Last Updated May 18, 2021

Other Voices, Other Rooms Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book felt like the gray, cold south of winter, not its verdant and sweaty summer. It was supposed to be sunny, but seemed to me altogether dusty. It's hard to place such decay and abandonment in lush, sultry greenery. The descriptions in this book of its people seemed to me eerily similar to those of its places. The places have some history, in the present they exist as ends unto themselves, to the point of irreparability. And so, save for the protagonist perhaps, do the people. They are not unbelievable nor are they simply set pieces for the protagonist to encounter. They're more interesting than that. It's just that, as the rural south will not, so these characters do not change.

My version of the book, some ten or twenty years after its original release, had a great forward by the author. In it we see Capote's realization that his breakout novel was autobiographical, and thus we're primed to see in the book echos of his history. The protagonist, then, we take as advised for a young Capote. The book isn't worse for this: it's a new layer of delight. It's harder to countenance the book's autobiographical prophecy. In the flamboyantly gay, chronically alcoholic, and for practical purposes useless Uncle Randolph, there is the sad end of Capote himself.

And in placing thoughts such as these into my dull mind, I'm reminded of how only culture, comprised in no small part of truly great novels, can help the soul slip the surly bonds of earth and touch the face of god. Culture transcends, not politics nor reason. And for that, I will keep reading.

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