from my bookshelf: summer crossing by truman capote


summer crossing is truman capote’s first novel. it was published posthumously by capote’s attorney after the manuscript was discovered. none of capote’s trusted confidantes knew about the manuscript and his representatives struggled with the decision to publish it, as they were unsure about capote’s feelings on it before he died.

in the book, the main character is grady mcneil. grady is a 17-year-old girl growing up in new york city. when her parents and sister decide to go on a trip to europe for the summer, grady stays behind to pursue a love affair with a man who seems wrong for her for a multitude of reasons. aside from her forbidden relationship, grady’s story involves a complicated friendship and possible romance with her best male friend, and her rebellious attitude towards what is expected of her: to follow in her sister’s footsteps by getting married and being a new york city debutante. this book reads similarly to breakfast at tiffany’s.


“As he went toward her, she was going half-way to meet him, he walked with the easy grace of one who expects always to know the best things of life.”

“Though unrelated, Grady and Peter, they still were relatives, not through blood but out of sympathy: it was the happiest friendship she knew, and always with him she relaxed in the secure warm bath of it.”

“There’s nothing to change the spirit like a summer crossing.”

“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.”

“She was not a child. it had been so ideal an excuse she somehow had persisted in a notion that she was: when, for instance, she’d said to Peter it had not occurred to her whether or not she might marry Clyde, that had been the truth, but only because she’d thought of it as a problem for a grown-up: marriages happened far ahead when life grey and earnest began, and her own life she was sure had not started; though now, seeing herself dark and pale in the mirror, she knew it had been going on a very long while.”

“Hot weather opens the skull of a city, exposing its white brain, and its heart of nerves, which sizzle like the wires inside a lightbulb.”

“For indeed the Manzers were a family: the used fragrance and worn possessions of their house reeked of a life in common and a unity no fracas could disrupt. It belonged to them, this life, these rooms; and they belonged to each other, and Clyde was more theirs than he knew.”

“When we change our brand of cigarette, move to a new neighborhood, subscribe to a different newspaper, fall in and out of love, we are protesting in ways both frivolous and deep against the not to be diluted dullness of day-to-day living. Unfortunately, one mirror, is as treacherous as another, reflecting at some point in every adventure the same vain unsatisfied face, and so when she asks what have I done? she means really what am I doing? as one usually does.”

“For when panic emerges, the mind catches like the rip cord of a parachute: one goes on falling.”