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A Christmas Memory, One Christmas, and The…
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A Christmas Memory, One Christmas, and The Thanksgiving Visitor (1983)

by Truman Capote

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4831933,173 (4.29)41
A holiday classic from "one of the greatest writers and most fascinating society figures in American history" (Vanity Fair)! First published in 1956, this much sought-after autobiographical recollection from Truman Capote (In Cold BloodBreakfast at Tiffany's) about his rural Alabama boyhood is a perfect gift for Capote's fans young and old. Seven-year-old Buddy inaugurates the Christmas season by crying out to his cousin, Miss Sook Falk: "It's fruitcake weather!" Thus begins an unforgettable portrait of an odd but enduring friendship and the memories the two friends share of beloved holiday rituals.   A Christmas Memory has been described as "[a] gem of a holiday story" (School Library Journal, starred review), and this warm and delicately illustrated edition is one you'll want to add to any Christmas or Capote collection.… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
A quick & easy read for the holidays.

Three short stories in this novel: two about Christmas and one about Thanksgiving. Each story began in a similar fashion describing Capote's youth. They are not more thought provoking than heart warming. Still, the fluid style is to be complimented. Capote was a talented writer. ( )
  godmotherx5 | Apr 5, 2018 |
Time to tell you about a delightful little book I read last weekend, while I was hurtling about finishing Christmas shopping and meeting up with friends. A Christmas Memory is a slight little hardback that I bought last year, and somehow didn’t get around to reading. This Christmas keepsake volume from the Modern Library was published in 2007 though the three stories were first published in 1956, 1982 and 1967 respectively.

I have read quite a number of Truman Capote short stories, and so knowing what a good short story writer he was, I had looked forward to finally reading the three stories in this volume. I wasn’t disappointed, these will definitely be stories I return to, perfect for the time of year.

There always seems to be a heavily autobiographical element to Capote’s writing, perhaps it is the way he writes so nostalgically about his Alabama childhood. Certainly, these stories also appear to be heavily autobiographical. The three stories are linked by the character of Buddy, who lives with the Alabama relatives of his mother, and who has a particularly close relationship with an elderly cousin named Sook.

In A Christmas Memory, Buddy looks back upon a childhood Christmas in the company of his cousin, his special friend. The setting is Alabama in the 1930s, Buddy is just seven, his distant cousin is in her sixties, describing her with affection and the kind of matter of fact honesty peculiar to children.

“Her face is remarkable – not unlike Lincoln’s, craggy like that, and tinted by sun and wind; but it is delicate too, finely boned, and her eyes are sherry-coloured and timid. ‘Oh my,’ she exclaims, her breath smoking the windowpane, ‘it’s fruitcake weather!’
The person to whom she is speaking is myself. I am seven; she is sixty-something. We are cousins, very distant ones, and we have lived together – well, as long as I can remember. Other people inhabit the house, relatives; and though they have power over us, and frequently make us cry, we are not, on the whole, too much aware of them. We are each other’s best friend. She calls me Buddy in memory of a boy who was formally her best friend. The other Buddy died in the 1880s, when she was still a child. She is still a child.”

It is a story which celebrates a Southern country Christmas, the joy of friendship and giving. Finally, touching on, inevitably perhaps, the loss that comes with love.

One Christmas describes how Buddy – aged just six – is packed off alone to visit his father in New Orleans. Buddy is terrified to travel so far on his own, having to spend Christmas away from Sook his special friend. He steps off the bus expecting there to be snow in New Orleans – so far away from Alabama.

“I don’t know what scared me most, the thunder, the sizzling zigzags of lightning that followed it – or my father. That night, when I went to bed, it was still raining. I said my prayers and I prayed that I would soon be home with Sook to kiss me good-night.”

His father is a not a man much used to small children, and through the bemused eyes of his young son we see a hard drinking, cynic, a man quite able to provide lots of Christmas gifts – but who finds a relationship with his son more difficult.

In The Thanksgiving Visitor; Buddy and Sook are anticipating the annual Thanksgiving feast – where the family that Buddy lives with, are inundated with a whole host of far flung relatives who come for the big day every year. Despite his youth, Buddy has learned to hate – much to Sook’s disapproval. A local boy Old Henderson, a boy a few years older than Buddy, kept back in second grade due to his lack of educational prowess.

“Of course it wasn’t that I hated school; what I hated was Odd Henderson. The torments he contrived! For instance, he used to wait for me in the shadows under a water oak that darkened an edge of the school grounds; in his hand he held a paper sack stuffed with prickly cockleburs collected on his way to school. There was no sense in trying to outrun him, for he was quick as a coiled snake; like a coiled snake; like a rattler, he struck, slammed me to the ground and, his slitty eyes gleeful, rubbed the burrs into my scalp. Usually a group of kids ganged around to titter, or pretend to; they didn’t really think it funny; but Odd made them nervous and ready to please.”

Buddy never imagines that Old Henderson might have other talents. Sook is determined to teach Buddy something about giving people a chance – and so – much to Buddy’s horror – invites Old Henderson to the family, Thanksgiving feast. The day is destined to be a memorable one.

This entire book could easily be read in a couple of hours, or less – I wasn’t able to read it in one sitting last Saturday – I was too busy – but it proved a lovely companion to a busy day of Christmas preparations. Tender, powerful and nostalgic Capote’s festive stories are a real treat. ( )
  Heaven-Ali | Dec 28, 2017 |
An endearing Christmas and Thanksgiving memories from Truman Capote's childhood. ( )
  EadieB | Dec 11, 2017 |
Five Stars for the first Story!

A Christmas Memory offers a gentle, honest, and beautifully expressed friendship that contrasts so wildly with Truman Capote's famous horror novel that readers may wonder how it is the same author.

Six year old Capote, his highly sensitive "spinster" cousin Sook, and their rat terrier, Queenie, open for us a tender world unto themselves, one which gives Christmas new meaning every year.

One Christmas and The Thanksgiving Visitor, both Four Stars, expand the young man's experiences in many unwanted directions. Sad and memorable. ( )
  m.belljackson | Dec 19, 2016 |
Wonderful collection of Capote's remembrances (I'm assuming much of it was autobiographical, or certainly in the memoir mode) of growing up with his elderly cousin and an assortment of aunts and uncles and distant parents ("One Christmas" beautifully recounts a reluctant visit with his father in New Orleans). Capote's personality may have eclipsed his writing during his life, but these stories remind me of his gifts: simple, clear, evocative...Perfect reading for those quiet times (may you have some!) during the holiday season. ( )
  bibleblaster | Jan 23, 2016 |
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for Gloria Dunphy (One Christmas)
for Lee (The Thanksgiving Visitor)
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Imagine a morning in late November. (A Christmas Memory)
First, a brief autobiographical prologue. (One Christmas)
Talk about mean! (The Thanksgiving Visitor)
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