Capote is among the 11 people I would invite for my Dinner Party with Historical Personalities. I would also like to invite Oscar Wilde, but I’m afraid it might turn out to be a very awkward meal, with the two of them competing for attention – a War of Wit!

This was Capote’s first book, written in the early 40s, while he was working for The New Yorker. It reads as a sort of trial-novel and Capote must have felt it, because he later claimed to have destroyed it. The novel laid hidden for over 50 years until in 2004 it was found among some boxes left behind in his Brooklyn apartment. It then went up for sale at Sotheby’s, but had not bids due to the high price and because The Truman Capote Literary Trust made sure the buyer would not have the rights of publication. In the end, the New York Public Library agreed to purchase it and all papers are now part of their Truman Capote Papers.

“Summer Crossing” is the story of a 17-year-old New York socialite who persuades her parents to leave her behind while they visit Europe. The reason she wants to stay is a recent love-affair with a Jewish parking-lot attendant.

I’m afraid the story of the publication is more interesting than the novel itself, not because it’s badly written or edited, but because it’s a subdued Capote that comes through, still testing his skills. However, it is a Capote, and worth reading if you’re a fan: it’s clever and full of little details that make you clearly see the scene without having it spelled out:

“What kind of things did you have in mind, kid?’ Clyde said this with a smile that exposed a slight lewdness: the young man who laughed at seals and bought balloons had reversed his profile, and the new side, which showed a harsher angle, was the one Grady was never able to defend herself against: its brashness so attracted, so crippled her, she was left desiring only to appease.

Other reviews (let me know if you’d like me to add yours):
A Striped Armchair

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