09 September 2020

It was never dark there: Notes on 'Summer Crossing'

Capote, Truman. Summer Crossing. Penguin Classis, 2006.

Summer Crossing is said to be "the lost novel that inspired Breakfast at Tiffany's." I'm only at the book's beginning and already I've noted a conspicuous prose-poetry style — enjoyable in small doses, chafing when too much — which is later on refined to simply poetic (to perfection in my opinion) in BAT and In Cold Blood.

It is also making me pine for city chaos and, especially in Chapter 2, the theatre:

Broadway is a street; it is also a neighborhood, an atmosphere. From the time she was thirteen, and during all those winters at Miss Risdale's classes, Grady had made, even if it meant skipping school, as it often did, secret and weekly expeditions into this atmosphere, the attraction at first being band-shows at the Paramount, the Strand, curious movies that never played the theaters east of Fifth or in Stamford and Greenwich. In the last year, however, she had liked only to walk around or stand on street-corners with crowds moving about her. She would stay all afternoon and sometimes until it was dark. But it was never dark there (emphasis mine): the lights that had been running all day grew yellow at dusk, white at night, and the faces, those dream-trapped faces, revealed their most to her then. Anonymity was part of the pleasure, but while she was no longer Grady McNeil, she did not know who it was that replaced her, and the tallest fires of her excitement burned with a fuel she could not name. (pp 24 – 25)

It was never dark there. I bet none of us imagined places like Broadway would ever be dark or mute, but here we are.

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