‘Summer Crossing’ is the story of a 17-year-old girl who has been left in New York while her parents spend the summer in Europe. It is a coming-of-age story, the heroine of which is very much a proto-Holly Golightly from ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’.
I was really looking forwards to reading this novella, since I have an enduring adoration of Truman Capote and will not rest until I have read all of his work. I unfortunately found this to be the most disappointing of his novels so far, but this is likely due to the fact that he lost it and never actually finished writing or editing it himself. He was having difficulties in writing it, and moved on to bigger and better things, namely Other Voices, Other Rooms. As for Grady being a proto-Holly, I’m not so sure about that.
Nobody was very likeable in this, which is pretty much the standard for Capote’s writing. I found myself hating one character, before swinging around to hate the other more. He had a great talent for characterisation, making even the smallest dunce of a character seem perfectly drawn. Grady is definitely not my favourite sketch though, and I found her annoying. She was the sort of character I wanted to slap and make her see sense! This is basically “Uptown Girl”, but the girl is kind of a naive sociopath with a rebellious streak, and way more money than sense.
I did thoroughly enjoy the very Capote-ish best friend, Peter. He’s flambouyant as all hell, and very, very sassy. The whole “romance” set up between Peter and Grady by others in the book seemed laughable to me, as he is clearly portrayed as homosexual. Her actual boyfriend, Clyde, was rather repugnant, and I just could not get myself to even consider liking him.
There’s much backstabbing, drama and EVEN MORE DRAMA that ensues in this teeny novella, and I don’t want to spoil too much of it for anyone who is interested in reading it. Though I felt held back from really enjoying it by my dislike of the characters, it is a truly solid effort for a first or second draft (nobody is entirely sure what stage he was at in writing this). It gives us a great look at Capote’s early work and the beginnings of his moulding of characters that will become his most recognisable trait as a writer. He was a master at observing people and human behaviour, and depicting it perfectly, but he went on to write far better books. Still, it would have been a shame for this to be lost forever.