Monday, November 15, 2010

Finally, a bildungsroman!

Truman Capote published Other Voices Other Rooms in 1948, at the age of 23.   A classic bildungsroman (aka "coming of age story"), Capote tells the story of Joel Knox, a boy who is sent to live with his father in Noon City, a small town in the American South.  While Joel tells his friend that he and his father "will hunt possum and eat possum stew" come wintertime, Joel finds out shortly after arriving that his father is severely disabled.  Watched over by the ambiguously gendered Randolph, in cahoots with Zoo, the hired help, and befriended by rowdy Idabel, Joel is left to his own devices and takes to exploring the world around him.

Capote was a true literary talent, with an ability to write boldly and pen some very beautiful passages such as this one:  "Before birth; yes, what time was it then?  A time like now, and when they were dead, it would be still like now:  these trees, that sky, this earth, those acorn seeds, sun and wind, all the same, while they, with dust-turned heart, change only."  This is a classic book that deserves its place in the canon of great American literature.  While not as dense and gripping as In Cold Blood, the fact that it was written by a young prodigy makes it ever the more impressive.

I am left with one question - why have both Southern books I have read this past month had possum references?! 

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