There’s nothing to change the spirit like a summer crossing. -From Summer Crossing, page 18-
In late 2004, Sotheby’s in New York contacted Alan Schwartz who is a trustee of The Truman Capote Literary Trust. A manuscript had been delivered to Sotheby’s for auction which appeared to be an early, unpublished novel by Truman Capote. The manuscript turned out to be Capote’s first novel (really a novella) drafted when he was only nineteen years old. Schwartz’ decision to publish this early work in 2005 has given readers the opportunity to enjoy a novel whose style and insight probably led to Capote’s penning of Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Summer Crossing is a slim novel with surprising depth. Grady McNeil, a New York socialite, is spending a summer alone in the city. On the cusp of her eighteenth birthday, she is ripe for independence. Her budding relationship with a Jewish war veteran leads her down a path where the future is far from clear.
As a summer heat wave descends on New York City, the novel also heats up – leaving Grady with the consequences of her decisions.
Capote’s deft literary style explores such themes as sexuality in the mid 1940s, as well as cultural, socioeconomic, class and religious issues during that time period. Filled with stunning insights into a young girl’s emotional development, the novel is a compelling read. Capote uses symbolism artfully.
I breezed through this novel in less than a day, carried away by Capote’s fine sense of place, as well as his deep understanding of the characters. A fastidiously written first novel, Summer Crossing is well worth the read.