Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas Stories: A Christmas Memory

Christmas Stories

There are writers out there who tend to abuse their storytelling superpowers (Gregory MacGuire comes to mind) and who draw us in with their incredible capacity for narrative and detail, only to stomp on us with their pessimism, bitterness, and belief that overall life and people are generally bad.  Unfortunately, most of my encounters with Truman Capote have tasted this way.  Fortunately, this one story of his has miraculously (perhaps unintentionally) stuck with me as pure and honest and raw and redeemed.  And if you want to find a version of it with gorgeous, thoughtful, dreamy, idealized illustrations (by Beth Peck), then A Christmas Memory is your match made in heaven.

Despite being a childhood memory, I can't quite peg this as a children's book.  There's too much nuance for that.  But other than the (humorous) bit with the whiskey for the fruitcake, there's not really anything objectionable for children. (And I definitely get the sense that Capote edited his brains out to make that so.)

A lot of things intended to make me cry fail because I resent being manipulated.  But occasionally something that's just intending to be honest makes me bawl my eyes out because nothing shakes my soul like an honest, redeeming reminder of the realness of real life.  Throw Christmas-ness in there to boot and I'm a puddle.

I recommend it, I do.

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