Thursday, December 6, 2007

A Christmas Memory

I finished Truman Capote's childhood memoir A Christmas Memory, about his life as a young boy living with his elderly cousins. One of these cousins is his best friend. She is quite child-like in her ways. Open, giving and whimsical. They have various adventures together during the holiday season, scrounging up enough money to buy what they need to make fruitcakes. One of these adventures is buying home brewed whiskey from a notorious local. The book is charming and honest. After they have finished making the thirty something fruitcakes there is just a little bit of whiskey left and they share it. They are found out by the other elderly cousins and scolded.

His best friend, who is not named in the book, calls him Buddy, after her best friend who died when she was a child. This made me think of Holly Golightly, in Breakfast at Tiffany's, calling Paul Vargus "Fred" after her brother Fred who she loves and misses so much. In both cases the renamed characters serve as substitutes for those they are renamed for. These are the only two Capote pieces I've read. It would be interesting to see if he uses this renaming device elsewhere.

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