Summer Crossing is a novel of two stories: one within it and another behind it.
Truman Capote began writing Summer Crossing in 1943. Fearing that the novel was, “thin, clever, unfelt,” he claimed to have had it destroyed at some point during the 1950s. However, a number of writings, including the manuscript of this book, were recovered from the trash by a Brooklyn house-sitter. Upon the finder’s death, his nephew sent the papers for auction, but since the Truman Capote Literary Trust held publication rights, the physical manuscript was not sold. Subsequently, New York Public Library purchased the papers, which are now held at the Truman Capote Collection archive. The book was published in 2005.
Summer Crossing is the story of a high-society New York teen named Grady during a long, hot summer in New York City. With her oppressive mother and nippy sister in Europe, she embarks upon a romance with a parking attendant, Clyde. Set against the brutal heat and her suffocating family, it is difficult to tell which is more oppressive.
Though unpolished, Capote’s tender, decorative prose is beguiling and beautiful. His ability to capture the heavy humidity of a New York summer proliferates throughout the story like a dream in which you try to run but your legs are too heavy; an omniscient metaphor for Grady’s life. Short yet satisfying, Summer Crossing is precocious and absorbing until the abrupt end.
Further viewing for experts: Truman Capote with a cat.