Other Voices, Other Rooms, Capote’s first published long work, is a moody and atmospheric tale characterized both by its strange setting—a decaying mansion in rural Mississippi—and by the host of peculiar characters it presents to the reader.
The book details the encounters of thirteen-year-old Joel Knox Sansom, who travels to an old mansion, Skully’s Landing, where he hopes to meet his long-lost father, Edward Sansom. In its emphasis on romantic and ghostly settings and its use of strange, eccentric characters, Other Voices, Other Rooms is typical of what has been termed the southern gothic school of fiction, a style of fiction marked by its use of the grotesque both in locale and in characterization.
This category can be seen in the works of other southern-born fiction writers such as William Faulkner (his short story “A Rose for Emily” and his 1931 novel Sanctuary both offer elements of southern gothic), Tennessee Williams (his 1958 play Suddenly Last Summer deals with incest, homosexuality, insanity, lobotomy, and cannibalism), Carson McCullers (her 1941 novel Reflections in a Golden Eye and her story “Ballad of the Sad Café” both have grotesque situations and characters), and Flannery O’Connor (her 1952 novel Wise Blood deals with religious obsession and madness). In Other Voices, Other Rooms, Capote uses this sense of the strange and the mysterious to convey the loneliness, isolation, and naïveté of Joel.
When Joel arrives at Skully’s Landing, he meets a variety of unusual characters: an ancient black man, Jesus Fever; Jesus Fever’s...
(The entire section is 684 words.)