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Issue 52 - The Truman snow

Whisky Magazine Issue 52
November 2005


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The Truman snow

Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory recalls a fond seasonal ritual. Jefferson Chase reports

Originally this column was going to be about Breakfast at Tiffany's, a fine drinking novel that's considerably darker and more down-to-earth than the Audrey Hepburn film.

But among the shorter pieces included as throw-ins in my paperback version of Truman Capote's society yarn, I found something better suited to the time of year – and no less fine.

A Christmas Memory recounts a childhood ritual. Born in 1924, Capote was the son of a broken home who was sent to live with relatives for a number of years in rural Alabama. It was an unhappy time, made bearable by the presence of a spinster cousin named Sook.

It was for her that Capote composed the story.

A woman with shorn white hair is standing at the kitchen window... ‘Oh my,' she exclaims, her breath smoking the windowpane, ‘it's fruitcake weather...' I am seven; she is sixty-something. We are cousins, very distant ones, and we have lived together – well, as long as I can remember. Other people inhabit the house, relatives; and though they have power over us, and frequently make us cry, we are not, on the whole, too much aware of them. We are each other's best friend.

A Christmas Memory was published the same year, 1966, as Capote's In Cold Blood, with which it shares little in common other than honesty.

Making fruitcakes is not without its hindrances. Money to buy the ingredients has to be cobbled together despite the watchful eyes of the house's other skinflint inhabitants. And one ingredient requires a trip to...

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