How often have you wished you could read a book again for the first time, to experience all over the rushing impact of emotion that really good writing elicits? Well, I have discovered the secret, and I will share it with you now.
I recently reread Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote, which is an absolutely stunning book. Considering my fondness for Southern literature, crazy old people, and outsiders, it’s no wonder this book amazed the heck out of me. I first read this book in high school and afterwards told people that Capote was my favorite author, probably because it sounded literary and intelligent. So imagine how dumb I now feel considering that I remember little to nothing of this book and had no idea until recently that this was the case!
Were the profound parts (and even main plot points) simply lost on my 15-year-old self? Probably. The characters in Other Voices, Other Rooms are all searching for love. And they believe they cannot find themselves until they find love. The problem is that you cannot love someone until you know yourself, and Capote’s characters have thereby doomed themselves to aimless lives of waiting, dreaming, and wandering. Only the main character, Joel, emerges from this haze of melancholy, finding not one person to love, but love in general, a love of life or something like that. I probably read this book while going through a similar haze and did not recognize Capote’s critique of the situation. It’s hard to see the haze when you are in it.
In any case, the way to read a book again for the first time is to wait long enough until you have forgotten what the book is about. You will find the text is studded with gems that you didn’t see before.
In light of this discovery, I plan to reread The Grass Harp, another one of my alleged favorite books by Capote that I may or may not accurately remember.