Monday, 21 December 2009

A Christmas Memory

I had been planning on finally reading "A Christmas Memory" by Truman Capote for a few months, ever since reading this post by Mee. I also knew that it was one of Nymeth's favourite stories and this would finally be the year to read it. I settled during this festive period fully prepared to be heart-warmed and I was but I realised from the opening paragraph that I have actually read this short story before! Possibly last Christmas or the Christmas before, I don't recall, but I have read it. Has this happened to you? It never happens with novels but there are short stories that have escaped my memory, which is ironic considering this one is entitled "A Christmas Memory"; it is a reminder why I blog because I have a hopeless retention for all that I have read.

Anyway, second time or not, "A Christmas Memory" is a sweet and touching story about a young boy named Buddy, our narrator, and his friend, an older woman and distant cousin, who live together along with a household of other relatives, none of whom they really care for. This unconventional but touching relationship is joyful to read about, especially during the festive seasons which is essentially about spending quality time with our loved ones. Buddy recalls one Christmas -their last spent together- in which they made fruitcakes together, up to thirty-one of them, which they sent to passing acquaintances and even one to President Roosevelt. The making of fruitcakes for Christmas gifts is one of their traditions and on a morning in November Buddy's friend wakes to declare "It's fruitcake weather!"

This is a gently affecting story that serves as a reminder of the true nature of Christmas. Even though I happened to have read it before I was happy for the reminder as it served as a festive reinforcement. Apparently autobiographical, you can watch Truman Capote read the story here (thanks to JoAnn for the link).


readerbuzz said...

I adore this story. I've read it several times now, and I finally broke down and watched the movie. Patty Duke as the wacky cousin almost works, but the darling little boy just didn't seem like a young Truman Capote to me.

Nymeth said...

That hasn't happened to me yet, but one of these days I'm sure it will. I'm glad you enjoyed it the second time around, and thank you so much for the link! I'm woefully behind with blog reading and had missed JoAnn's post.

Vivienne said...

I actually bought Garden Spells before realising that I had already read it. They had changed the cover and I didn't realise until I started reading it that it was the same book. I hope to read 'A Christmas Memory,' over this week.

Jackie (Farm Lane Books) said...

That hasn't happened to me yet, but I'm sure it will. I haven't read this one yet, but perhaps I'll line it up for next Christmas.

Jackie (Farm Lane Books) said...

That hasn't happened to me yet, but I'm sure it will. I haven't read this one yet, but perhaps I'll line it up for next Christmas.

Anonymous said...

I must read this. Normally every year I make fruit cakes to give to older relatives and to enjoy myself, didn't do it this year as the old gas oven could not be trusted to maintain temperatures etc and the new stove is only just being installed today, serious kitchen frustration, it has been a construction site. The aroma of baking fruit cakes is one of the signs that Christmas is coming.
I think forgetting previous reads will be one of the few advantages of old age, I will get to re-read and enjoy books all over again. Do you look back sometimes and wish you could experience a book for the first time again. My teenage daughter was re-reading the Gormanghast books and mentioned how wonderful the first experience of discovering these books was and how she wished she could recapture that first sense of wonderful discovery and immersion, I knew just what she meant.

Anonymous said...

I was discussing with Novel Insights how much I wanted to read this over Christmas as I love Capote. Sadly its a book I dont have so am going to have to pray I get a copy next Christmas as it sounds wonderful. Good to have more Christmas reads for next year though.

mee said...

It probably has happened to me before. I didn't count short stories as 'official read' so some may have slipped my mind (but I'm sure I'll remember it straight away once I read it again, like you). But I started to take note of short stories I read since.. uhum.. a couple of weeks ago. So that should help me remember :)

I feel like reading this story again now that it's close to Christmas. Thanks for the youtube link! I may just listen to that instead of re-reading. Yay!

JoAnn said...

I'm so glad you loved this story, too! This is definitely my favorite in the collection I've been reading. One of my commenters mentioned that Capote also wrote a Thanksgiving story featuring Buddy.

In case I can't get back on the internet (connection issues lately), I'll wish you a Merry Christmas now, Claire!

Anonymous said...

I've had that happen to me with a couple of novels. Angela's Ashes comes to mind, although, to be fair, I did read it when I was about fifteen the first time 'round.

This sounds like a beautiful story, and I'm looking forward to hearing Capote narrate it on youtube.

Paperback Reader said...

Hi readerbuzz, thanks for commenting. It is an adorable story and I was curious about the adaptation; Capote is so singular that he would have been difficult to cast, I'm sure.

Ana, happy to oblige with the link! I've yet to listen to it myself but hoping to fit it in before Christmas Day.

I'm sure the more we read the more likely it is to occur.

Vivienne, glad that I'm not the only one! I hope you enjoy the story.

Jackie, it's, I suppose, a recreational/occupational hazard! I found it quite amusing.

Book pusher, oh you will find this enchanting if you make fruitcakes yourself! It will add an extra element to the experience and appreciation.

I fully understand the notion of wishing that you could experience a beloved book for the first time; if only that were possible.

Simon, do you own a copy of Breakfast at Tiffany's? It's usually one of the short stories in that collection (Penguin). Hope you get to read it!

mee, I read so many short stories at Uni and school that it is bound to happen again. I've started to take a note of ones read too.

Hope you manage to listen to the story before Christmas!

JoAnn, I'd be interested in reading the Thanksgiving story too; Buddy is such a lovely character.

Have a wonderful Christmas!

anothercookie, I seem to have a good memory for what I've read but usually not the content!

Enjoy listening to the story.

C.B. James said...

That has happened to me. Happens more often these days.

A Christmas Memory is one of the better holiday stories out there. Thanks for the link to the movie, too. Also a favorite of mine this time of year.

Rebecca Reid said...

I often feel like I've read something before when I read bloggers' posts about it! But then I can't remember anything about it, so I figure i might as well revisit it.

This sounds like a fun story to read during this season. I'll have to find it! or maybe watch it.

Paperback Reader said...

Rebecca, I usually have a good memory for what I've read but not the content! Hence why I now blog- for retention of what the books were about.