The Holiday Spirit

A Christmas Memory, One Christmas, & The Thanksgiving Visitor by Truman Capote

Today I read Truman Capote’s collection of holiday-themed short fiction.  Though the order of the stories appears as written above, I chose to read The Thanksgiving Visitor first.  It is the longest of the three stories and tells the tale of Buddy’s (a twelve-year-old Capote) encounter with local bully Odd Henderson on Thanksgiving.  The second story I read, A Christmas Memory, narrates a typical Christmas in Capote’s childhood, filled with fruitcake-baking, Christmas tree-chopping and Christmas gift-making.  The final story, One Christmas, is an aberrant Christmas for Buddy, one which was spent in New Orleans with his estranged father.

Though each of these stories teaches a different childhood life lesson, all three are interrelated.  First, each story concerns the same character in the same family setting.  Buddy is surrounded primarily with Sook Faulk, his sixty-year-old spinster cousin/best friend and Queenie, the lovable ragamuffin family dog.  These three characters are vivid, complete (even the dog) and likeable.  Also, each story is told through the discerning point of view of an older Capote.  Many years, thirty-plus, have passed, and Capote is able to relay the stories back with what the book jacket aptly terms “recollective vision.”

Capote’s classic Southern metaphoric expressions and knack for description are both present in the book.  For all of these reasons, I consider this book a perfect prelude to the holiday season.

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