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A Christmas Memory
Truman Capote
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A Christmas Memory

4.24 of 5 stars 4.24  ·  rating details  ·  5,185 ratings  ·  418 reviews
A Christmas Memory is the classic memoir of Truman Capote's childhood in rural Alabama. Until he was ten years old, Capote lived with distant relatives. This book is an autobiographical story of those years and his frank and fond memories of one of his cousins, Miss Sook Faulk. The text is illustrated with full color illustrations that add greatly to the story without dist...more
Published (first published 1956)
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Dec 04, 2013 Mike rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Mike by: Mr. and Mrs. R.H. McConnell, beloved grandparents
Perhaps I should say this is not so much the review of a book, but the response A Christmas Memory still draws from me each year when I read it. Perhaps it is just a simple statement of the preciousness of memory and the gift it brings us to keep things alive within us, though those things have been gone from us for many years.

Things. Toys, books, friends, parents, lovers, spouses, children. What would we do without the gift of memory? How would we survive? Without it, we would be nothing but em...more
I can remember first hearing this story read to me when I was in 5th grade. The reader broke down crying, which even at a young age, struck me how emotionally powerful this story remains. It's my favorite Christmas tradition - every Christmas Eve, when I finally retire, I take my worn copy of Capote's A Christmas Memory, snuggle into bed, and transport to a different time. I have an old video of A Christmas Memory narrated by Capote, so I continue to hear his distinct high-pitched voice speak th...more
When I was in my junior year of high school, my English teacher Mrs. O'Brien brought this book in one day. She sat on the edge of her desk, and she held up a well worn copy of it, and told us that each year before Thanksgiving she reads the entire book (there are three novellas included). Then she proceeded to read to us. We were mesmerized. She read that entire period, and we all had tears in our eyes as she read "A Christmas Memory". The next day, we filed in, she sat on her desk, and she read...more
I first heard A Christmas Memory on the radio sometime in the 1970's, read by Truman Capote. I was caught and held at once by the eerie quality of his voice, and as I listened to his words, it seemed to me that his voice was the only possible medium through which this southern-gothic Christmas tale could be properly rendered. His voice, the story: all of a piece; yet the written form allows me a langorous repetition of some of his most beautiful sentences. Nothing quite like it.
I am always looking for books to read in the upcoming Christmas season. I saw this book in a catalog, and thought I would read it first from the library. I'm glad I saved my money and did not buy it.

While beautifully written it is a terribly sad and tragic book, not one that I would want to bring out from year to year and read over again. Perhaps a better title would have been "A Christmas memory -- some sweet but alot bitter and unhappy". It is largely autobiographical, which explains much as...more
Nice short read over the Christmas season. A great part comes toward the end when the main character is flying kites with his elderly friend. The friend says, "My, how foolish I am! You know what I've always thought? 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...more
This is a sensitive and intricate rendering of a life memory--a story Capote has carried with him throughout his whole life. A memoir, the book recounts Capote's memories of one special holiday Christmas, spent with his elderly cousin whom he lived with "as long as I can remember." The young Capote refers to his cousin as "my friend", and she, in turn, calls him "Buddy". Their relationship is whole enduring; it transcends vast differences of age and circumstance. The young Truman had a future ah...more
Steve Lindahl
Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory is a short, beautifully written story by one of my favorite authors. It's about the relationship between a woman in the latter years of her life and a boy just starting out. It is, according to the book jacket notes, “based on Capote's own boyhood in rural Alabama in the 1930's.” The edition I read was illustrated by Beth Peck. The pictures are as wonderful as the text.

Here is how Capote introduces the relationship between the woman and the boy:

I am seven; she...more
Lisa N
“Oh my…it’s fruitcake weather!” begins this story in a homey little kitchen in rural Alabama. Seven-year-old Buddy and his dotty, 60-something cousin begin their Christmas fruitcake-baking ritual foraging for windfall pecans in a nearby grove.

Based on memories from Truman Capote’s childhood where he lived with a family of distant, elderly cousins. This story has Deep South written all over it, from the blackberry jelly, to the fig branches, the moonshine whiskey, the flies in August, and the re...more
This is one of my favorite Holiday books. There was a TV version of it done in 1966 with Geraldine Paige which was excellent. A newer version was done in 1997 with Patty Duke which doesn't even compare. If you ever get a chance to see the first version , it is excellent.
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
I read this every Christmas. Can't help but love this little tale. Ages 10 up.
A Christmas Memory
by Truman Capote

Book Review by Jay Gilbertson

Initially I was all set to review Olive Kitteridge but then I realized, this is the Christmas season and what book is more fitting than A Christmas Memory?

This wonderfully written short story (we’re talking an afternoon read here) is one that no one should pass by. Not only have I read this many times, I’ve discovered that the story doesn’t get old, it simply becomes more familiar; more distinctive in the way it seems to pull your...more
Adel Zeller
This was a beautiful, bittersweet story. Very enjoyable, in that reminiscing, whimsical way that cherished stories have, and told in the very eclectic style of Truman Capote, no less. The ending made my eyes tear up, which hasn't happened from reading a book in a long time.

I'm not quite sure what age group this book would be most appropriate for. Is it a childrens book? It is categorized as a childrens book, but I would not recommend it for too young children, or for youth to try to read and nav...more
This is a very short Christmas read that is packed with wonderful Capote descriptions of days long past. He certainly captures his relationship with his Friend, an elderly cousin who "is much like a child". Together they look forward to their simple, but pleasurable rendition of Christmas in a home surrounded by adults "who often make them cry".

From the making of fruitcakes as gifts for strangers and the adventure of finding and decorating the perfect Christmas tree, it is a story that makes us...more
This was such a sweet, sweet story. I had to wait for it from the library hence why I read it in January. I've got the movie version waiting for me to see next. The book was written in 1956, the movie in 1997 starring Patty Duke, Piper Laurie and Eric Lloyd as Buddy. The About the Author written in the back of the book says it all:

"Until he was ten years old, Truman Capote lived with a family of distant and elderly cousins in a small town in rural Alabaman. A Christmas Memory is a frankly autobi...more
Tears of such heartbreaking joy and longing and nostalgia! Every child needs to feel loved and appreciated by an adult who relates to them as a whole person. Unfortunately, adults are often prone to patronization when speaking with children and the elderly, or prone to ignoring them entirely, so it comes as no surprise that children and elders often get along so well. My own dear Maw and Paw saved me when I was growing up, and I saw myself and Maw so clearly in this story. My husband also had th...more
I read this short story every year before Christmas, and every year, without fail, I cry. It's the story of a young boy and his aged relative and their annual adventure into the making of fruitcakes. For whom? For "people who've struck our fancy."

But it's more than a story about making fruitcake, it's a story about a boy who needs a caring relative in the midst of a whole lot of uncaring ones, and about their relationship as outcasts in that family.
Paul Lima
Very sweet. A young boy has one real friend - a 60 year old female cousin who may be a bit shy and slow, but is also very wise. They live with an extended family. They shop together, cook together and discuss life. The book is not all that long. It's really a series of short stories, each one centering around Christmas or Thanksgiving in southern America during the depression. It's a touching book, with a strong narrative voice. A lovely read.
Tonight I just read my new favorite Christmas story. I finished it with tears and the motivation to buy a copy for at least four family members this Christmas. It is beautifully written and illustrated. Also, my edition has a CD version of the story which I plan on listening to tonight.

How did I not know of this book before? I am SO happy that I saw a review of it here on Goodreads.
This was my first foray into Truman Capote, so although it is a short story, I read it slowly to fully absorb his style. The setting provides biographical insight into Capote's childhood and how he acquired his accent. An intergenerational relationship and extended kin are recollected in this country tale that left me with even more curiosity about our iconic American writer.
What a precious book! Truman Capote tells of his early growing-up years living with elderly relatives in Alabama. He and his very aged cousin survive in this hostile environment as best friends, who celebrate adventure after adventure in their preparations for Christmas. The pen and watercolor illustrations make the characters even more alive and endearing.
This little story is of a little boy and his older cousin who live together because neither have anyone else. Their existence is simple, they are poor and the setting is rural Alabama. The highlight of the year seems to be Christmastime, when they gather up all the money they have to buy the supplies they need to make fruitcakes for all the people they know.
Beautiful, lyrical, and emotional. This short story both made me smile, and made me sad. I could smell the tree, I could taste the fruitcake, I could feel the magic of Christmas as seen through the eyes of a 7 year old boy and his 60-something cousin. Well done, Truman.
This is one of my favorites. It's such a heartwarming story. It's fun, it's sad, it's beautifully written and one that I think everyone should read at least once. It will make you laugh and it will definitely make you cry but it's worth every second.
What's so beautiful about this little book is its radiant nostalgia. Most well-read people know what Truman Capote was like as an adult. Jaded, cynical, sarcastic, self-serving... Here we meet lonely little boy that was in him all along.
Mar 24, 2010 Kathleen rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kathleen by: Ivan
A wonderful story. My version came with a CD read by Celeste Holmes; I believe she starred in the film. Thanks for the recommendation, Ivan.
This tears me up every time- I read it first in 9th grade but every now and then I read it again. It's so sad...when they're making the cakes...
Gregory Knapp
I saw him read this aloud to a small theatre in Lincoln Center at Christmastime, 1980.

According to both contemporary reports and certainly to later biographical ones he was having serious problems with drugs and alcohol at that time.

But he stepped up to the podium and instantly cast a spell on the entire audience as he read -- transporting us back to childhood days in Alabama. Anyone who was there that night will never forget it.

Whatever deep personal problems he was having, he was a Trooper in...more
"A Christmas Memory is the American equivalent of Charles Dicken's "A Chistmas Carol" I was told. They were wrong; it was better. Saying that means an awful lot coming from me, because I almost always favor European literature as opposed to American but this... This story is the most heart felt, get-yourself-in-the-Christmas-spirit literature I have ever had the fortune of coming across. I had the pleasure of hearing a live reading of this story at the library one Christmas with my mom, and will...more
R. Manolakas
Jun 02, 2014 R. Manolakas rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to R. by: I saw the movie on TV first a long time ago
R. Manolakas

This is an unforgettable Christmas story and holiday delight written by my favorite author, Truman Capote, the man who somehow was passed up by the Pulitzer Prize "committee" and is best known by his masterpiece and trail blazing (and chilling) crime and mystery novel, "In Cold Blood". It is hard to believe that the same man wrote both. This was also a fine movie with Patty Duke Austin. The story is sentimental, bitter-sweet, and very moving. I highly recommend it. R. Manolakas
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Books you reread each December 6 16 Mar 31, 2013 11:29AM  
Capote's Memory 1 18 Dec 13, 2007 05:55AM  
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Truman Capote was an American writer whose non-fiction, stories, novels and plays are recognised literary classics, including the novella Breakfast at Tiffany's (1958) and In Cold Blood (1965), which he labeled a "non-fiction novel." At least 20 films and TV dramas have been produced from Capote novels, stories and screenplays.

He was born as Truman Streckfus Persons to a salesman Archulus Persons...more
More about Truman Capote...
In Cold Blood Breakfast at Tiffany's Other Voices, Other Rooms Music for Chameleons The Grass Harp, Including A Tree of Night and Other Stories

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“It's bad enough in life to do without something YOU want; but confound it, what gets my goat is not being able to give somebody something you want THEM to have.” 45 likes
“My, how foolish I am! You know what I've always thought? 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 as they are, just what they've always seen, was seeing Him. As for me, I could leave the world with today in my eyes.” 12 likes
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