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Three by Truman Capote: Other Voices, Other Rooms; Breakfast at Tiffany's; Music for Chameleons

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30 review for Three by Truman Capote: Other Voices, Other Rooms; Breakfast at Tiffany's; Music for Chameleons

  1. 4 out of 5

    Brina

    A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote is an upcoming read in the group On the Southern Literary Trail in December. As my last two months of the year looked to be packed as I finish up challenges, I decided to take the time to read this story collection. I had previously read both Breakfast at Tiffany's and other stories as well as In Cold Blood, so I had already experienced Capote's expert storytelling skills. With any story he has written, however long, I knew I would be in for a treat as I took A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote is an upcoming read in the group On the Southern Literary Trail in December. As my last two months of the year looked to be packed as I finish up challenges, I decided to take the time to read this story collection. I had previously read both Breakfast at Tiffany's and other stories as well as In Cold Blood, so I had already experienced Capote's expert storytelling skills. With any story he has written, however long, I knew I would be in for a treat as I took the time to read his skillfully written prose. Although the three stories here are fictional, Capote's holiday recollections stem back to a time when he was seven years old, living with his maternal family in rural Alabama. His parents divorced when Capote was young and neither was in a position to claim custody of him, so he was sent to live with kin. Even though young Truman was unwanted by either of his parents, he was not unloved as he developed into an unlikely but loving friendship with his great aunt Sook and her dog Queenie. Sook, who referred to Truman as Buddy, taught the future writer lessons of humility, religion, and other skills which she had acquired over the course of a life skills. Not socially adept, Sook preferred to spend her time in Truman's presence, and the two went on to develop a special relationship that was not lessened by time or distance. As a result, Capote took this relationship and lessons to heart, shaping them into short stories which have endured for decades. In A Christmas Memory, Sook wakes one day and declares that it is fruit cake weather. November has started and with it holiday preparation. Sook and Buddy take all the money they have earned over the course of the year, a mere $12.73, to bake fruit cakes for more than thirty distinguished recipients: every one from President Roosevelt to a visitor who once passed through the parlor. Baking the cakes is a labor of love and an act that strengthens this unique friendship. The story moves from baking cakes to obtaining the perfect tree and then creatively crafting decorations on a Depression era budget. Capote's prose is straight forward yet a chock full of descriptive language that had me smiling alongside seven year old Buddy as he prepares for the holidays. The end of this short tale teaches additional life lessons and had me hearkening to a simpler, but in many ways, happier time period. As a result, I eagerly moved on to the other two stories in this collection. The Thanksgiving Visitor also has Sook teaching Buddy valuable life lessons. At a time when one's education was at a premium and any school past the eighth grade was not guaranteed, Buddy attended school with Odd Henderson who had already been made to repeat first and second grade, and was a twelve year bully in a class of eight year olds. Always one to tease and torment Buddy, Sook suggests that he invites Odd to the family's yearly Thanksgiving celebration. Buddy does not want anything to do with his nemesis but relents as Sook teaches him to empathize with other's stations in life. This story was a short fifty pages and moved quickly as Capote pays attention to detail in describing a southern Thanksgiving. In addition to Sook's lessons, this story had my mouth watering and looking forward to the Thanksgiving holiday ahead. Truman Capote is one of America's master story tellers from the mid 20th century. His In Cold Blood was genre transforming and captivating to read, while Breakfast at Tiffany's told a different story from the one I envisioned from the movie. Yet, neither of these stories is as personal to the author as A Christmas Memory, One Christmas, and The Thanksgiving Visitor. These three short tales take the reader back to the author's early childhood and teach valuable life lessons. Combined with soothing, detailed prose, they have been a joy to read, and have me relishing the brief time I spent in Capote's presence. 4+ stars

  2. 4 out of 5

    Julie G

    It's the last week of November, but we've had so much snow here in Colorado, I feel like we've already crawled past both Thanksgiving and Christmas and have entered the doldrums of January. I'm feeling like Doctor Zhivago's wife today, ready to wrap myself in a wool blanket and sip vodka while I stare out the window, disconsolately. I'd like to tell our guests who are invited for Thursday for the Thanksgiving meal. . . no soup for you. Now a nude December fig branch grates against the window. Bud It's the last week of November, but we've had so much snow here in Colorado, I feel like we've already crawled past both Thanksgiving and Christmas and have entered the doldrums of January. I'm feeling like Doctor Zhivago's wife today, ready to wrap myself in a wool blanket and sip vodka while I stare out the window, disconsolately. I'd like to tell our guests who are invited for Thursday for the Thanksgiving meal. . . no soup for you. Now a nude December fig branch grates against the window. Buddy and Miss Sook get me today, understand my mood. They don't have the snow to contend with in their small town in Alabama, but they understand, all too well, a desolate landscape. They've been abandoned by parents, misunderstood by peers, and they have nothing much on earth but each other. . . which is everything to them. They are a team and they must rally to make their own magic, and never do they do so better than when they summon—this very week—the making of the fruitcakes for the holiday season. Caarackle! A cheery crunch, scraps of miniature thunder sound as the shells collapse and the golden mound of sweet oily ivory meat mounts in the milk-glass bowl. Oh, my dark heart can rejoice! I have avoided this little treasure, this collection of three short stories about Thanksgiving and Christmas. I suspected it would be schmaltzy, cheesy. Boring, too. Wow, was I wrong. This book surprised me by summoning three of my all-time favorite American novels: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, The Age of Innocence and We Have Always Lived in the Castle. I want to eat this little pocket-sized book. Pop it into my mouth like a roasted, buttered pecan. Ponder its stark beauty forever. The light from this story is small; it is one tealight candle in a dimly lit room, but the images still manage to jump out at me, flash briefly in my eyes, cast their dimensions on the otherwise blank wall. How happy I am to be reminded today that joy can be kindled from one small, spark of cheer.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    “‘My, how foolish I am!” my friend cries, suddenly alert, like a woman remembering too late she has biscuits in the oven. ‘You know what I’ve always thought?’ she asks in a tone of discovery, and not smiling at me but a point beyond. ‘I’ve always thought a body would have to be sick and dying before they saw the Lord. And I imagined that when He came it would be like looking at the Baptist window: pretty as colored glass, with the sun pouring through, such a shine you don’t know it’s getting dar “‘My, how foolish I am!” my friend cries, suddenly alert, like a woman remembering too late she has biscuits in the oven. ‘You know what I’ve always thought?’ she asks in a tone of discovery, and not smiling at me but a point beyond. ‘I’ve always thought a body would have to be sick and dying before they saw the Lord. And I imagined that when He came it would be like looking at the Baptist window: pretty as colored glass, with the sun pouring through, such a shine you don’t know it’s getting dark. And it’s been a comfort: to think of that shine taking away all the spooky feeling. But I’ll wager it never happens. I’ll wager at the very end a body realizes the Lord has already shown Himself. That things are” – her hand circles in a gesture that gathers clouds and kites and grass and Queenie pawing earth over her bone – “just what they’ve always seen…’” - Truman Capote, A Christmas Memory When I think of Truman Capote, two things spring to mind. First, his most famous book, the “nonfiction novel” In Cold Blood, about the vicious murder of a Kansas family in their lonely house by two thugs who – by a feat of literary alchemy – Capote transformed into complex and tortured figures. Second, I think of the diminutive Capote’s outsized life, the drugs and booze, the name-dropping and tale-telling, the candle of his being burning at both ends. When I think of Christmas…well, let’s just say that my thoughts of Christmas and my thoughts of Capote seldom intersect. Yet here we are, with the Modern Library’s slim (just over one-hundred pages) collection of three holiday stories written by Capote at different points in his career. Gathered here are A Christmas Memory (first published in 1956), One Christmas (first published in 1983), and A Thanksgiving Visitor (first published in 1967). Though they are not interconnected, they share the same setting (Alabama in the 1930s) and same central character: Miss Souk Faulk. (Aside: I highly recommend finding a version of A Christmas Memory read by Capote himself in his inimitable voice. Well worth the time). All three short stories are written in the first-person by a narrator who is nicknamed Buddy. It stands to reason that Buddy is Capote who, in his youth, lived with extended family, and in straitened economic circumstances, in rural Alabama. Yet, because this is Capote, it is unrealistic to declare these stories are strictly autobiographical. As anyone who has studied the circumstances of In Cold Blood knows, Capote’s relationship to the truth was tenuous at best. He was not above massaging facts – or even inventing scenes – to make for better drama. Strict fidelity is not important here. For one, a memoir – as the word implies – comes from memory – and memory is necessarily fallible. Memory does not give us an objective truth, but rather something that is polished with time. This is not postmodern wishy-washiness, but modern brain science. For another, absolute, corroborated truth is not required when dealing with holiday reminisces, at least not to the extent it is required for reporting true crime. The three stories presented in this collection are simplicity itself. In A Christmas Memory, Buddy and Miss Souk (here, referred to only as Buddy’s “friend”) bake fruitcakes, craft Depression-era gifts, and bask in their love for each other. In One Christmas, Buddy has to leave Miss Souk to visit his father – a distant, unknowable figure – in New Orleans. Buddy does not want to go, but with Miss Souk’s advice, he gets through the experience having learned a thing or two. Finally, in A Thanksgiving Visitor, Buddy’s Thanksgiving is made unforgettable when Miss Souk invites the town bully, the wonderfully named Odd Henderson, as a guest. Again, lessons are learned. Capote writes in a deceptively straightforward manner. As I read, I periodically thought to myself: “What makes this so special?” Then Capote would land a sentence or craft a scene of such spare, effortless power, that I realized I’d probably remember snippets of these stories forever, even if I forget the overall particulars. The linchpin of these three stories – the beating heart – is Miss Souk, an elderly old-maid cousin of Buddy’s, whose homespun wisdom and childlike faith are both utterly contrived and absolutely perfect for the holiday milieu. It is almost axiomatic that a Christmas story needs a moral. Here, Miss Souk is a gentle combination of Scrooge’s spirits, the Old Man from A Christmas Story, and Angel Second-Class Clarence from It’s a Wonderful Life. The engine that drives Christmas – for those who celebrate it – is nostalgia. When I think of Christmas, I think of all the Christmases that came before; I think of the Christmases of my childhood. So many memories of youth get lost in the swirling passage of time. Not just days or weeks, but entire years become vague and mist-shrouded gaps in the chronology. The Christmases stand out, though, brilliantly lit and preserved as in amber. I remember the anticipation; the songs; the movies; the snow; the ornaments on the tree; the impossible sensation of wishing for something and then having it appear, suddenly, in your hands. I recognize that at a certain point, I stopped living in the moment, and started pursuing the elusive “perfect Christmas” of the past. Capote hits the nostalgia hard in this trilogy of short stories. He writes as a man looking backwards. He plays every string that you expect to be played. Knowing what we know about Capote, it thus becomes hard to decide whether this is a cynical ploy to play upon the reader’s emotions, or whether it is a genuine longing for days to which he cannot ever return. I would like to think it is the latter. I want to believe that even as Capote tightened the spiral of his own self destruction, he still clung to holiday memories, that he found comfort in the humble anonymity of Miss Souk’s kitchen, in the simple expressions of her love.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ceecee

    This is a collection of short stories mostly focusing on the Author’s Alabama Christmas memories as a young boy growing up with distant relatives, especially his much older cousin ‘Sook’ Faulk. The first from 1956 reflects on it being ‘fruitcake weather’ and is one of the sweetest and most moving Christmas stories I have ever read. It evokes so many warm Christmas memories such as ‘Stir up Sunday’, preparing the Christmas puddings with my mother. The story is vividly told, it’s very touching wit This is a collection of short stories mostly focusing on the Author’s Alabama Christmas memories as a young boy growing up with distant relatives, especially his much older cousin ‘Sook’ Faulk. The first from 1956 reflects on it being ‘fruitcake weather’ and is one of the sweetest and most moving Christmas stories I have ever read. It evokes so many warm Christmas memories such as ‘Stir up Sunday’, preparing the Christmas puddings with my mother. The story is vividly told, it’s very touching with a little hint of sadness. Sook is just wonderful and everyone needs someone like her in their lives to brighten their world and make it magical for a child. I loved it. The second is written in 1967 and I assume is dedicated to his friend Harper Lee. It’s a memory from 1932 surrounding Odd Henderson, a bully who made his life a misery. Sook teaches him a valuable life lesson at a Thanksgiving dinner and this is another colourful, excellent story. A 1982 story reflects on his desire to spend Christmas with Sook but he has to spend it with his father in New Orleans. It’s a sad and poignant story and again demonstrates how precious Sook is to him but also despite the distance from Truman, his father loves him. Also included is a 1949 story in which Sylvia sells her dreams and although it’s very good it’s a bit depressing and there’s a 1948 story of ten year old Miss Bobbit which is also not especially cheery but is also extremely intriguing. Finally, there’s a 1945 story about Mr Marshall’s Valhalla Drugstore and his ingenious attempt to win back customers from a newly arrived competitor, this is also very good with a little touch of magic! Overall, it’s absolutely worth reading just for the first three and the last one which are all fantastic five star reads. They are all well written and colourful (well, you’d sort of expect that!!) and they bring Truman’s childhood vividly to life. Highly recommended. With thanks to NetGalley and especially to Penguin Press UK for the much appreciated arc for an honest review.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    4.8 rounded to 5 stars What a delightful little package of Truman Capote’s holiday short stories. All three are based on Mr. Capote’s childhood memories when he was 7-8 years old living in Alabama with his elderly cousins. His best friend is his shy and somewhat eccentric distant cousin, Miss Sook, whom he refers to as “my friend.” My favorite was “A Christmas Memory,” followed closely by “The Thanksgiving Visitor,” and then “One Christmas,” which wasn’t too shabby for coming in last place, scori 4.8 rounded to 5 stars What a delightful little package of Truman Capote’s holiday short stories. All three are based on Mr. Capote’s childhood memories when he was 7-8 years old living in Alabama with his elderly cousins. His best friend is his shy and somewhat eccentric distant cousin, Miss Sook, whom he refers to as “my friend.” My favorite was “A Christmas Memory,” followed closely by “The Thanksgiving Visitor,” and then “One Christmas,” which wasn’t too shabby for coming in last place, scoring a solid 4.5 with me. Capote is an outstanding writer. His words are simple but are put together so artfully and meaningfully that their impact on me was as strong as anything I have read from other authors this year, and I have read a lot from talented authors in 2019. It is a real treat to escape to the old days (1932-1934 in this case) where Christmas was celebrated in a much more valid and relevant way. Mad dash shopping, running around like mad to hit all the extended family homes along with the requisite airport nightmares and crowded weather-endangered highways, and gritted teeth to get the whole thing over worth were not the scene back then. It was more the fellowship of local friends and family all gathered to enjoy the holiday feast and the good company and the honoring of the reason for the holiday that were important. And no one was watching their cell phone like a hawk. If people do not have holidays like that anymore, at least they can escape to stories like these to warm the heart and soothe the soul. I highly recommend “A Christmas Memory, One Christmas, and The Thanksgiving Visitor” to all readers yearning for holiday stories with real human relationships, life lessons, and warm feelings. And as a bonus, no tech in sight. I am now the owner of a copy of “The Complete Short Stories of Truman Capote” and can’t wait to dig into more.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    The Hook - A review by my GoodReads friend Mike. I could not say it better than him. You can find Mike’s reviews at https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/3... be certain to search his shelves for A Christmas Memory The Line - The first two paragraphs will draw you in: ”Imagine a morning in late November. A coming of winter morning more than twenty years ago. Consider the kitchen of a spreading old house in a country town. A great black stove is its main feature; but there is also a big round table an The Hook - A review by my GoodReads friend Mike. I could not say it better than him. You can find Mike’s reviews at https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/3... be certain to search his shelves for A Christmas Memory The Line - The first two paragraphs will draw you in: ”Imagine a morning in late November. A coming of winter morning more than twenty years ago. Consider the kitchen of a spreading old house in a country town. A great black stove is its main feature; but there is also a big round table and a fireplace with two rocking chairs placed in front of it. Just today the fireplace commenced its seasonal roar. A woman with shorn white hair is standing at the kitchen window. She is wearing tennis shoes and a shapeless gray sweater over a summery calico dress. She is small and sprightly, like a bantam hen; but, due to a long youthful illness, her shoulders are pitifully hunched. 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-colored and timid. "Oh my," she exclaims, her breath smoking the windowpane, "it's fruitcake weather!" The Sinker - I chose to read The Modern Library edition, A Christmas Memory, One Christmas, & The Thanksgiving Visitor to have the experience of all three special remembrances of Capote’s holidays. I loved them all but particularly was drawn to A Christmas Memory. It strongly evokes the feeling of coming or going home, the smells, the sounds and sights of a busy kitchen as preparations are made for Christmas Day. It’s all about the memories. Perfect gift to yourself or for someone you love.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    There are reasons that some books become classics. This is one that captures moments from childhood and freezes them for all time, moments from treasured holidays, moments of love, fright, embarrassment, belonging. Moments that many of us can relate to even if we did not grow up during the Depression in the deep South as did Truman Capote with his beloved cousin Sook. I believe I will eventually need to obtain a copy of this book for myself or just continue liberating the library copy at Christm There are reasons that some books become classics. This is one that captures moments from childhood and freezes them for all time, moments from treasured holidays, moments of love, fright, embarrassment, belonging. Moments that many of us can relate to even if we did not grow up during the Depression in the deep South as did Truman Capote with his beloved cousin Sook. I believe I will eventually need to obtain a copy of this book for myself or just continue liberating the library copy at Christmastime each year. A huge thank you to On the Southern Literary Trail for scheduling it now so that I was doubly inspired to read it. (Addendum, 12/08/17, I have purchased a kindle copy of this book finally so that I can read this whenever I fancy.)

  8. 4 out of 5

    Judith E

    Capote’s storytelling is smooth and personal. He talks to the reader in a natural conversational tone and the reader is hooked with the easy and steady tempo of his words and the exposition of this complicated family. The three holiday stories in this book are heart warming and offer an inside look at 1930’s life in rural Alabama. I was impressed by the scene in which a huge batch of pecans were cracked and shelled for fruitcake. In the 60’s, my grandparents had a pecan tree in Atlanta, Georgia Capote’s storytelling is smooth and personal. He talks to the reader in a natural conversational tone and the reader is hooked with the easy and steady tempo of his words and the exposition of this complicated family. The three holiday stories in this book are heart warming and offer an inside look at 1930’s life in rural Alabama. I was impressed by the scene in which a huge batch of pecans were cracked and shelled for fruitcake. In the 60’s, my grandparents had a pecan tree in Atlanta, Georgia and sent us a large box of pecans every Christmas. It took my dad several nights to extract the sweet nut meat with an ice pick and a hammer while my mother chopped them on our Formica table. It was hard work but the reward was the best pecan pie ever.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Heidi

    2020 was a pretty darn awful year— I won’t recount the ways as many of us suffered loss. First, my sincere thanks to a dear GR friend who mentioned Capote’s timeless story, A Christmas Memory. The tears are still gently running down my face, but that’s okay. This was just the story I needed to read a few days before Christmas. I’m crying for Buddy, Queenie, and their beloved friend. But most of all I’m crying for two wonderful women who aren’t here to share this Christmas with me. My memories of 2020 was a pretty darn awful year— I won’t recount the ways as many of us suffered loss. First, my sincere thanks to a dear GR friend who mentioned Capote’s timeless story, A Christmas Memory. The tears are still gently running down my face, but that’s okay. This was just the story I needed to read a few days before Christmas. I’m crying for Buddy, Queenie, and their beloved friend. But most of all I’m crying for two wonderful women who aren’t here to share this Christmas with me. My memories of them shall last a lifetime too. Merry Christmas to you and yours! And a heartfelt thank you to my fellow bookworms for all the books that I would have never read without your reviews!❤️

  10. 4 out of 5

    Raul Bimenyimana

    This is a collection of three short stories. All of them about the holidays, they are all set in the South of the U.S. and they are all recollections of childhood. The first short story A Christmas Memory has received a lot of positive reviews from friends these past few days, and it is an excellent story, perhaps the best from the collection and it revolves around the recollection at seven of the narrator's friendship with an older cousin who is in her sixties as well as their rat terrier compa This is a collection of three short stories. All of them about the holidays, they are all set in the South of the U.S. and they are all recollections of childhood. The first short story A Christmas Memory has received a lot of positive reviews from friends these past few days, and it is an excellent story, perhaps the best from the collection and it revolves around the recollection at seven of the narrator's friendship with an older cousin who is in her sixties as well as their rat terrier companion (both feature in all the stories) and their preparations for Christmas. The second story One Christmas is set mostly in New Orleans, where the narrator leaves to spend Christmas with his father, away from his cousin Miss Sook whom he greatly loves and later experiences a harsh disillusionment as regards to Santa Claus. The third story The Thanksgiving Visitor is about the narrator and his bully Odd Henderson, a poor boy who picks on him because of his being a "sissy" and as a form of "straightening" him out. The narrator gets a chance at revenge when Odd is invited to his house for thanksgiving. It is difficult to not give away too much plot of short stories when describing what they are about. These short stories are excellent, fine writing which I think captured the essence of holidays at the end of the year as one grows older, a lot of reminiscing and nostalgia. I loved the friendship in all the stories and the learning and growth of the protagonist and I certainly understood the Capote and Carson McCullers comparisons after reading them. I highly recommend The Member of the Wedding if you liked these short stories and recommend both if you haven't read them.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sara (taking a break)

    Update: re-read A Christmas Memory and think it might make a nice Christmas tradition to read it yearly. Just as lovely the second time around. I was delighted to find this collection on sale this week. I had not expected to be able to read it with the Southern Literary Trail this month, and I had wanted to. What a sweet, nostalgic collection this is and a real tribute to Truman Capote's talents. The only other thing I have read from him was In Cold Blood, and while I admired his talented writing, Update: re-read A Christmas Memory and think it might make a nice Christmas tradition to read it yearly. Just as lovely the second time around. I was delighted to find this collection on sale this week. I had not expected to be able to read it with the Southern Literary Trail this month, and I had wanted to. What a sweet, nostalgic collection this is and a real tribute to Truman Capote's talents. The only other thing I have read from him was In Cold Blood, and while I admired his talented writing, I abhorred the book. I never read Breakfast at Tiffany's because I did not want to spoil the warm glow I have from the movie version. Well, that was off-topic, so back to this volume. I love the character of Miss Sook, the way Buddy relates to her and the lessons he learns from her gentle teaching. I wonder how many of us have known souls like this, who have a less bit of worldly intelligence but a lot more of Godliness about them. I have known a few. I came away with the fragrance of an Alabama kitchen in my head and a great desire to go whip up a batch of my mama's hot buttermilk biscuits and smell them freshly exiting the oven. Of course, I would need the chatter of the cooks to make it just like home and a hug from everybody who came through the door. I really loved this!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    A Christmas MemoryThis heartfelt story of an eccentric old woman, Miss Sook, with the shorn white hair, calico dress and tennis shoes, her young best friend and cousin she calls Buddy, and the little orange and white rat terrier Queenie is one of my favorite Christmas stories. Such a memorable ending......two lost pair of kites flying in the sky hurrying toward heaven..... One Christmas Young Buddy is forced to visit his estranged father in New Orleans at Christmas time and finds out the answe A Christmas MemoryThis heartfelt story of an eccentric old woman, Miss Sook, with the shorn white hair, calico dress and tennis shoes, her young best friend and cousin she calls Buddy, and the little orange and white rat terrier Queenie is one of my favorite Christmas stories. Such a memorable ending......two lost pair of kites flying in the sky hurrying toward heaven..... One Christmas Young Buddy is forced to visit his estranged father in New Orleans at Christmas time and finds out the answer to the question.......Is there really a Santa Claus?......Miss Sook does a good job of answering the big question in this short heartwarming tale.......but the best part of the story is what Buddy writes on the postcard to his father at the end..... The Thanksgiving Visitor Buddy decides to seek revenge on the school's bully this Thanksgiving, but the tables turn on him resulting in another good lesson from his best friend Miss Sook......"two wrongs don't make a right, and the one unpardonable sin in her book......deliberate cruelty."All three short stories in this book were based on actual loving memories of Miss Sook from Mr. Capote's childhood while living with distant relatives in Alabama. Highly recommend for a fast and rewarding Christmas read!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Diane Barnes

    This is a perfect little book, with 3 stories of remembered Christmases and Thanksgiving, that illuminate Capote's early life in Monroeville, Alabama. He and his cousin/friend Sook, (she was 60, he was 8) were both misfits who made life bearable for each other. It has been a while since I read Capote, and I had forgotten what an artist he was with words. I think I'll pull this one off the shelf every year at the holidays, just to be reminded of a simpler time, and the beauty of Miss Sook's spiri This is a perfect little book, with 3 stories of remembered Christmases and Thanksgiving, that illuminate Capote's early life in Monroeville, Alabama. He and his cousin/friend Sook, (she was 60, he was 8) were both misfits who made life bearable for each other. It has been a while since I read Capote, and I had forgotten what an artist he was with words. I think I'll pull this one off the shelf every year at the holidays, just to be reminded of a simpler time, and the beauty of Miss Sook's spirit.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Deacon Tom F

    This is a very special book. Truman Capote demonstrates to all readers the craft of writing. First, the characters are so well described that at times I thought I actually knew them. Second, they’re down home stories about Alabama. Sometimes the descriptions are so very well done that this reader had no doubt about the item Finally, it was a fast read. Awesome volume. Highly recommend.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Fiona

    What a wonderful collection of short stories! There are only 6 stories in this slim volume so they have to be savoured. Most are autobiographical and are moving without being excessively sentimental. The only exception is Master Misery which is much darker than the rest and reminiscent of Poe, or Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected. With that exception, the stories are suitable for all ages and would be wonderful to read with children as they will learn the true meaning of goodwill. Capote uses What a wonderful collection of short stories! There are only 6 stories in this slim volume so they have to be savoured. Most are autobiographical and are moving without being excessively sentimental. The only exception is Master Misery which is much darker than the rest and reminiscent of Poe, or Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected. With that exception, the stories are suitable for all ages and would be wonderful to read with children as they will learn the true meaning of goodwill. Capote uses words sparingly but describes people, situations and places often in great detail. His choice of words and the rhythm of his sentences is often beautiful. Snow-quiet, sleep-silent, only the fun-fire faraway song singing of children; and the room was blue with cold, colder than the cold of fairytales: lie down my heart among the igloo flowers of snow. An easy 5 stars from me. I will read this collection over and over. With thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Random House UK for a review copy.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Caterina

    I adore these stories. Such bittersweet love letters to a home, a culture, and especially an eccentric and very special human, a grandmotherly cousin who was young Truman’s caretaker and childhood best friend.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Gary

    I love the writing of Truman Capote and wanted to read a book to get me in the mood for the Christmas holidays. The book contains three stories that are connected tales that help to raise that Christmas spirit. Told with the accomplishment of an excellent author these stories are tender and bittersweet. Buddy recalls his distant Christmases that he shared with aging relatives on their Alabama Farm. We hear of his unlikely friendship with Sook, his beloved maiden ‘aunt’, The stories are gentle and I love the writing of Truman Capote and wanted to read a book to get me in the mood for the Christmas holidays. The book contains three stories that are connected tales that help to raise that Christmas spirit. Told with the accomplishment of an excellent author these stories are tender and bittersweet. Buddy recalls his distant Christmases that he shared with aging relatives on their Alabama Farm. We hear of his unlikely friendship with Sook, his beloved maiden ‘aunt’, The stories are gentle and warming and ideal to get you in the Christmas mood. Enjoyable read. I would like to thank both Netgalley and Penguin Classics for supplying a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Now that was 107 pages of good, no great, literature. This collection of Capote's packs a punch through a very small package. Capote's memories encouraged me to remember some of my own childhood memories. I laughed and I cried, but I enjoyed every word. The whiskey scene reminded me of Aunt Bee off of The Andy Griffith show getting drunk off of "medicine" and Sook reminded me of my great aunt who wasn't exactly all there, but was probably more there then we realized. Who in the South doesn't kno Now that was 107 pages of good, no great, literature. This collection of Capote's packs a punch through a very small package. Capote's memories encouraged me to remember some of my own childhood memories. I laughed and I cried, but I enjoyed every word. The whiskey scene reminded me of Aunt Bee off of The Andy Griffith show getting drunk off of "medicine" and Sook reminded me of my great aunt who wasn't exactly all there, but was probably more there then we realized. Who in the South doesn't know how to play Rook and anyone that's lived on a farm should remember the smell of creosote just by reading the word. I think these short stories were written for you to "remember and reflect".

  19. 5 out of 5

    Suzy

    These three stories touch the heart and just might take you back to your own childhood holidays, whether or not you live in the American South. Capote has a way of drawing you in with writing so enjoyable and vivid that you see and experience his memories of Christmas and Thanksgiving with his "cousin" Sook when he was a child. They will make you smile, laugh and probably bring a tear or two. I checked this out from the library, but intend to get a copy so I can read this slim volume again aroun These three stories touch the heart and just might take you back to your own childhood holidays, whether or not you live in the American South. Capote has a way of drawing you in with writing so enjoyable and vivid that you see and experience his memories of Christmas and Thanksgiving with his "cousin" Sook when he was a child. They will make you smile, laugh and probably bring a tear or two. I checked this out from the library, but intend to get a copy so I can read this slim volume again around future holidays.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Antoinette

    I read this book in 2009- Believe it or not I have been keeping a reading journal since 1981! what I loved about it was that it felt like a touch of a real Christmas! Truman Capote’s memories highlighted in these stories. Very enjoyable!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie ((Strazzybooks))

    3.5/5 “...the Christmas time of year that exhilarates her imagination and fuels the blaze of her heart..” Lovely, simple, classic, festive, nostalgic. My library copy of this book had three stories (two Christmas and one Thanksgiving) - all of which celebrate the holidays with the nostalgic remembrance of an accomplished writer. The stories tell of Truman Capote’s childhood living with extended family in rural Alabama. They center around his relationship with his best friend and cousin, an older 3.5/5 “...the Christmas time of year that exhilarates her imagination and fuels the blaze of her heart..” Lovely, simple, classic, festive, nostalgic. My library copy of this book had three stories (two Christmas and one Thanksgiving) - all of which celebrate the holidays with the nostalgic remembrance of an accomplished writer. The stories tell of Truman Capote’s childhood living with extended family in rural Alabama. They center around his relationship with his best friend and cousin, an older woman with a kind heart and childlike manner. This woman, Miss Sook, stole the show with her joy and gratefulness for the small, simple things. Truman Capote did a beautiful job of reliving and recounting childhood moments through the eyes of an adult. The stories have a classic Christmas feel, and I can imagine revisiting them on future holidays.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ange H

    Christmas 2020 - Nice!! I have not read anything by Truman Capote before. I adored all three of these bittersweet, nostalgic holiday stories about his offbeat childhood in Depression-era Alabama. I'm glad I purchased the hardcover version. Reading these will become a Christmas tradition for me. Christmas 2020 - Nice!! I have not read anything by Truman Capote before. I adored all three of these bittersweet, nostalgic holiday stories about his offbeat childhood in Depression-era Alabama. I'm glad I purchased the hardcover version. Reading these will become a Christmas tradition for me.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Bobbie

    A Christmas Memory and The Thanksgiving Visitor read for the Keeping Up With Classics Group in October 2019 Two of these short stories are scheduled for upcoming group reads for the Classics Group. I found this volume in my library and decided to go ahead with reading the complete volume now due to other reads which coincide with these. I was quite moved by these stories and really enjoyed them. I'm just coming back to add that my favorite is A Christmas Memory, which I will certainly want to rea A Christmas Memory and The Thanksgiving Visitor read for the Keeping Up With Classics Group in October 2019 Two of these short stories are scheduled for upcoming group reads for the Classics Group. I found this volume in my library and decided to go ahead with reading the complete volume now due to other reads which coincide with these. I was quite moved by these stories and really enjoyed them. I'm just coming back to add that my favorite is A Christmas Memory, which I will certainly want to read again.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Celia

    What a beautiful book to read on Christmas Day. Truman Capote shares with us here, three memories of his childhood: A Christmas Memory Truman and Miss Sook make fruit cake laced with boot-leg whiskey. One Christmas Truman spends Christmas with his estranged father. The Thanksgiving Visitor Truman's nemesis, Odd Henderson is invited to Thanksgiving dinner. Capote turns a beautiful phrase in these stories. Not sugary sweet, instead, descriptive and striking. 5 stars What a beautiful book to read on Christmas Day. Truman Capote shares with us here, three memories of his childhood: A Christmas Memory Truman and Miss Sook make fruit cake laced with boot-leg whiskey. One Christmas Truman spends Christmas with his estranged father. The Thanksgiving Visitor Truman's nemesis, Odd Henderson is invited to Thanksgiving dinner. Capote turns a beautiful phrase in these stories. Not sugary sweet, instead, descriptive and striking. 5 stars

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jess the Shelf-Declared Bibliophile

    Check out my reviews on each individual story.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl struggles to catch up

    Goodness the man can write. Wonderful stories to read at the holidays about believable (though 'eccentric' people). Best of all? No sugarplum fairies, no Scrooge or Grinch turned benelovent, no miracles. A quick read, recommended to almost everyone age 9 up. Goodness the man can write. Wonderful stories to read at the holidays about believable (though 'eccentric' people). Best of all? No sugarplum fairies, no Scrooge or Grinch turned benelovent, no miracles. A quick read, recommended to almost everyone age 9 up.

  27. 4 out of 5

    SueLucie

    I enjoyed all these stories and, surprisingly, I think the ones that will stay with me are not the nostalgic, autobiographical tales of Deep South Thanksgivings and Christmasses (though they are charming and atmospheric) but the three darker inclusions in this collection. ‘Master Misery’, in particular, about a creepy collector of people’s dreams and the effect this has on them is excellent. ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ was the only thing I knew about the author until I read this book of short stori I enjoyed all these stories and, surprisingly, I think the ones that will stay with me are not the nostalgic, autobiographical tales of Deep South Thanksgivings and Christmasses (though they are charming and atmospheric) but the three darker inclusions in this collection. ‘Master Misery’, in particular, about a creepy collector of people’s dreams and the effect this has on them is excellent. ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ was the only thing I knew about the author until I read this book of short stories and now I have had a taste of the range of his writing, I am keen to lay my hands on more. With thanks to Penguin Classics via NetGalley for the opportunity to read an ARC.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    Wow! Truman Capote is a master of descriptions! He makes the people, the surroundings and the feelings so very real! You almost feel like you are there with him as a young boy and his "friend" (never named in this story, I noticed) as they pick pecans for the fruitcakes they will bake or procure the much-needed alcohol required for the very best fruitcake and again as they search out "the" Christmas tree and decorate it. "A Christmas Memory" was a delightful reminiscence and warm account of a me Wow! Truman Capote is a master of descriptions! He makes the people, the surroundings and the feelings so very real! You almost feel like you are there with him as a young boy and his "friend" (never named in this story, I noticed) as they pick pecans for the fruitcakes they will bake or procure the much-needed alcohol required for the very best fruitcake and again as they search out "the" Christmas tree and decorate it. "A Christmas Memory" was a delightful reminiscence and warm account of a meaningful friendship between a young boy and an elderly relative very significant in his life. I loved the touching ending -- brought a little tear to my eye after having also enjoyed a couple of giggles along the way. I also found a children's book version of this same story and the illustrations by Nancy Peck are a great addition to the story. There is still quite a lot of text so probably would not hold the interest of very young children. But also worth checking out just for the pics. The next story in this trilogy, "One Christmas," is quite different from the first in that the young boy Truman is removed from everything comfortable to go visit his mostly-absent father in New Orleans for Christmas. You feel his pain and discomfort at being in an unfamiliar environment with people he doesn't know -- including his father. The father wants very badly for his son to love him and tries to "buy" that love. Lessons are learned on both sides and Truman is relieved to return to the life he knows and loves. In the third story, Miss Sook (Truman's "friend") invites Truman's arch enemy to come for Thanksgiving dinner, much to Truman's chagrin! Odd Henderson has terrorized Truman at school for so long -- but to have Odd on his own turf is too much for Truman. During the course of the celebration, Truman decides to teach Odd a lesson and ends up learning a more important one himself. I found it interesting the order that the stories were included in this volume. If I were making the decision regarding placement, I think I would put the Thanksgiving one first, "One Christmas" in the middle and "A Christmas Memory" I would save for last. This was a totally unexpected and delightful side of Truman Capote -- quite a change from other books he has authored.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    Finishing up this short story trio with "The Thanksgiving Visitor" has given me a very happy start to this Thanksgiving Day. Today among the other blessings in my life, I'm thankful for my Goodreads friends whose reviews and suggestions help me find great new books and stories to explore -- one of the most recent of which is this one, which I may have to re-read during the holidays from now on. Embarrassingly, this is the first of Capote's books I've read (!), so he's going on the shortlist toda Finishing up this short story trio with "The Thanksgiving Visitor" has given me a very happy start to this Thanksgiving Day. Today among the other blessings in my life, I'm thankful for my Goodreads friends whose reviews and suggestions help me find great new books and stories to explore -- one of the most recent of which is this one, which I may have to re-read during the holidays from now on. Embarrassingly, this is the first of Capote's books I've read (!), so he's going on the shortlist today. These stories are great short fiction, a genre that is very difficult to be great in, even for seasoned authors who churn it out with some frequency. These three shorts are at least -- if not mostly -- semi-autobiographical with a coming of age overtone. They first appeared in magazines from the 1950s to the 1980s, and encapsulate the holiday spirit in ways less obvious than other holiday classics. Capote gives a very loving tribute to his spinster cousin Miss Souk, who raised him almost as her own son in his early childhood, and who died shortly after he left her house in the mid-1930s. But through her character (whom Capote calls "my friend" throughout the book), these stories illustrate the holiday spirit of family, generosity and love she taught him in his most formative years -- set against the backdrop of Alabama in the 1930s. Highly recommend.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Carrie Poppy

    A gift from my mother for Christmas. I must say I liked “A Christmas Memory” most. All three stories are really about young Truman’s loving, platonic relationship with a 60-year-old woman. Very bittersweet.

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