A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote

 

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Originally published on Dec 31 2013.

3/5 stars.
ebook, 48 pages.
Read on November 20, 2013.

I have to admit this is my first Capote read. I have yet to read In Cold Blood or anything else by him as he hasn’t really ever peaked my interest but this little short story has intrigued me to reconsider Capote.

At seven, Capote knows that the Christmas season begins when his much older cousin, Sook, exclaims that “It’s fruitcake weather!“. The story focuses on the wonderful relationship that Capote has with his eccentric and quirky cousin and the traditions that the two of them take part in during Christmas. It’s absolutely endearing that the two of them save all year so that they can make fruitcake for their family, friends and neighbours and that they both yearn to give each other something spectacular for Christmas but can never afford to so they just make each other kites. While the story ends rather sadly with Capote eventually being sent away to school and losing touch with his dear cousin the story is a nostalgic reminder of the spirit of Christmas and to be grateful for all of the wonderful miracles that life has already presented us. As Sook realizes:

“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’11 wager it never happens. I’11 wager at the very end a body realizes the Lord has already shown Himself. That things as they 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, was seeing Him. As for me, I could leave the world with today in my eyes.”

This story is about finding finding beauty in everyday life, appreciating your loved ones and being grateful for what you have no matter how little that may be. That is the Christmas spirit. This book is perfect story to read at Christmas, even aloud, though I would recommend it for an older audience. Overall, I really enjoyed this quick read and will be looking forward to reading more Capote in the future!

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

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Originally published on  November 11, 2013.

3/5 stars.
ebook, 492 pages.
Read from July 24 to August 27, 2013.

I read this novel for a book club and for whatever reason I thought that this was a holocaust survivor story so it was a nice surprise to find out that it was about American bomber planes and the Japanese as I had not read any biographical content on this part of the war.

I have to admit there was something about Laura’s writing that took me a bit to get used to. I found the first few chapters long and way too drawn out and it took me a little bit to get used to her sentence structure for whatever reason. With that being said, I became very involved and captivated with the story and the characters after the first few chapters. I also appreciated the amount of effort that Laura took in collaborating this remarkable story. It must have been such an honour and a pleasure to interview Louie.

I honestly still can’t get my head around the amount suffering Louie and his comrades were subjected to after being captured by the Japanese. How does someone go on in those conditions? The resilience displayed by Louie and his friends still amaze me. What I don’t understand is how a someone can cause that much pain and discomfort to another human being. I am glad that near the end Laura included some of the perspectives of the tormentors, specifically the Bird, not that it validates at all what they did but it is despicable to me the things that some people can convince themselves of. I recall feeling as vengeful and angry as Louie did in the novel though I don’t know if I found the same peace as Louie at the end. I want people to be punished for their crimes and I don’t feel like the Bird ever was.

I really appreciated that the book continued on after Louie finally made it back home to his family. So many war related stories stop once they’ve reached the safety of home but while one battle has ended another one begins. So I’m very thankful that Laura was able to provide insight into the PSTD that these men experienced and how they were able to overcome that final battle.

Grey Cats by Adam Biles

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4/5 stars.
Read from February 20 to 22, 2013
ebook, 101 pages.

Another little throwback review to a great indie read that I discovered almost 2 years ago today as part of an Author/Reader discussion on the TNBBC.  I wrote my thoughts out immediately on the novel as I was little taken back by the small, but awesome book.

 I feel the need to read this book again even though I just finished it. There was so much going on in this short novel that I fear I didn’t fully absorb it all. Having said that, wow! Adam Biles you are a master with words. I thoroughly enjoyed the dynamic and unique metaphors that followed this intriguing plot and I truly appreciated the style and talent of the writing. It was refreshing!

This story is philosophical, humourous, tragic and inspiring. The narrator (who is never actually named, nor did I noticed until it was brought up in discussion) goes out at night in his home of Paris to track down his girlfriend, Melina. She regularly goes out like this and up until now the narrator has never asked why, as she is a night person and he is a day person. While out looking for his lover he is shown a whole other side to the Paris he knows by day. The descriptions and scenes are carnival and dream like and they take the reader on a roller-coaster experience that has a shocking ending.

“In ze night, all ze cats are grey.”

This quote, found in the book, I feel describes the narrator and why he is unnamed, as well as Melina and the rest of the lost souls in the Paris night world. They’re hiding in shadows away from themselves and their past  the night to search of an identity among others in similar situations in which, the narrator in the end, finds himself through Melina.

I also found this book strikingly and peculiarly romantic. The narrator delves into the feelings and details of his relationship with Melina while he is out trying to find her in this world he is not familiar with. He goes over her flaws, how they met, why they work well together and ultimately in the end how much she means to him. These reflective portions of the book felt like the only grounded part of the story as they stepped away from the dream-like adventure he is partaking in. I found that I was able to catch my breath, so to speak, from the rest of fast paced plot in these portions.

Overall a highly recommended novella for anyone looking for an awaking read by some fresh talent!