Book Review: Summer Crossing by Truman Capote

summer crosing and custer buttons 028What? by Truman Capote?  What’s this?  I had thought I’d
already read everything by Truman Capote.

Yet, supposedly, this manuscript was found in an apartment where he
once lived in New York–a book that he referred to sometimes as his
first novel, but didn’t like and didn’t want published.

That’s the way things go—now it’s published!

It’s short, really a novella, and as such made a nice little diversion for
summer reading.  Unfortunately I spent the first half of the reading
subconsciously examining every word, every phrase, to see if I
could identify them as Truman Capote trademarks.

When I was in the middle of the book, I relaxed and went with the
story effortlessly.  And the story does go right along as you might
expect with Capote.  He really was a genius at writing.

Grady, a seventeen year old girl, persuades her parents to go off
on a “summer crossing” to Europe without her.  She stays back at
the apartment in Manhattan, and without their knowledge, spends
the summer with her new-found boyfriend, a parking lot attendant
from Brooklyn.  His name is Clyde Manzer.  It’s the 1940s.

She’s rich, he’s not.  That’s it in a nutshell.

When she goes to meet his family, Capote pulls out all the plugs
to endear us to his mother and sister, Ida:

(about getting married) “Well, count me out,” said Ida . . .”Boys
are hateful; men, too.  The fewer the better, I say.”

“You talk foolish, Ida dear, said her mother, removing the cactus-
plant to a window-shelf, where a square of Brooklyn sunlight fell
on it desolately.  “That is a dried up way of talking; you want more
juice in you, Ida dear.  Maybe you better go to that mountain place
like Minnie’s girl did last year.”

“She wasn’t to any mountain.  Believe me, I’ve got the news on her.”

An old friend, Peter, is also in on the plot as we’re carried along, and
the whole thing wraps up quickly, in 142 pages, and now I’m busy
wondering why, and what parts, Capote didn’t like . . .  Interesting
little book!

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