Truman Capote: A Christmas Memory, One Christmas & The Thanksgiving Visitor

Southern Holidays


Truman Capote’s charming, magical memories of his childhood Christmas and Thanksgiving with his mother’s Monroeville, Alabama family — particularly his much elder and much-beloved cousin Miiss Sook, who thanks to her own child-like nature was mother, grandmother and elder sister to him simultaneously; but, most importantly, the greatest source of warmth, love and compassion of his entire childhood.

In the book’s second (individually, last-published) entry the Monroeville experience is contrasted with the one (sadly failed) attempt by Capote’s father to make up for years of non-parenting, and seeing all three stories published together, the contrast — and the boundless warmth of Capote’s Monroeville home, and of Miss Sook — is brought out in an even brighter light, (As an aside, it is easy, too, to recognize the place, and the traits of individual personalities, in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, which was inspired by the same community.)

Since this book doesn’t merely include two Christmas but also a Thanksgiving memory, for 16 Festive Tasks purposes I’m going to use it as my book for the Thanksgiving holiday book joker.

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1628201/southern-holidays

16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 4 – Penance Day

Tasks for Penance Day: Tell us – what has recently made you stop in your tracks and think? –OR– What was a big turning point in your life? –OR– Penance Day is a holiday of the Protestant church, which dates its origins, in large parts, to Martin Luther, who published his “95 Theses” exactly 500 years ago this year. Compile a catalogue of theses (it needn’t be 95) about book blogging! What suggestions or ideas would you propose to improve the experience of book blogging?

1. Be honest.  Ultimately, you’re not going to do anybody any favors by holding back on your opinion or by sparing anybody out of misunderstood politeness.  That doesn’t mean, “be rude”.  But honesty is, largely, what book blogging is all about.

Keep things varied and diverse.

2. By the same token, also be courteous and appreciative of / responsive to the people who read your blog.  Remember they don’t have to — they could be doing something else instead.  (Like, writing their own blogs … or playing with their pets.)

3. Say at least a little bit about the reasons why you like / dislike a given book, or care about a given topic.  Nobody likes Amazon-style “this rox” or “this sux” reviews (for an obvious reason), and if you’re going to the trouble of writing a blog post to begin with, you might as well doing it right.

4, And most of all, in a community like BookLikes: Participate, participate, participate!!

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1626380/16-tasks-of-the-festive-season-square-4-penance-day

Anne Meredith: Portrait of a Murderer

16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 4 – Penance Day

Soul searching … or is it?


Book themes for Penance Day: Read a book that has a monk, nun, pastor / preacher, priest or other representative of the organized church as a protagonist, or where someone is struggling with feelings of guilt or with their conscience (regardless over what).

Judging by Dorothy L. Sayers’s lavish praise when reviewing this book upon its original publication, Portrait of a Murderer would seem to be the ideal book for this particular square: This isn’t a whodunit — the identity of the murderer is known from the moment the deed is done, and what is more, we’re even witnessing the murder from the perpetrator’s perspective.  Rather than puzzling out clues, the book is concerned with the psychological effect that the deed has on the murderer and on the family concerned.  (The setting is another Christmas country house party, btw.)  And, Sayers reasons, since we’re invited inside the perpetrator’s head, we get to experience that person’s feelings and thought processes, and thus, come to sympathize with them.

Um, no — not me, I’m afraid.

In fact, for me this book is a variant on the old adage that “it’s better to keep silent and be thought an idiot than to open your mouth and remove all doubt” — only replace “idiot” by “arrogant, selfish bastard.”  (That, actually, applies to the majority of the characters here, which, in the absence of the deceptively light touch of a writer like Sayers herself or, for that matter, Georgette Heyer, doesn’t exactly provide added incentive to finish the book.)

If you do persevere, however, you ultimately come across a character towards the end who does struggle mightily with his conscience: the murderer’s brother in law, a young lawyer (and, together with his wife — the murderer’s sister — one of the few normal and likeable members of this cast of characters), who ultimately stumbles onto the solution and is mightily tempted to just let it all slide and let another person (who is seemingly so much more “deserving” of a death sentence, and onto whom the murderer has craftily shifted the blame) go to the gallows instead.  So for that reason, I’m getting to count this book towards the Penance Day square after all.

The above notwithstanding, though, Meredith’s writing is excellent — she was an author better known under her male pseudonym Anthony Gilbert (though Anne Meredith was  a pen name as well), and I’m definitely going to take a closer look at how she fared with other types of mysteries under her main pen name.  Also, it’s a pity she didn’t write more books under the Anne Meredith name, because as a result we also don’t see more of the policeman investigating this particular case, and whom Meredith initially seems to have planned to set up as a series detective figure; at least judging by the amount of background information we’re getting about him, which ultimately doesn’t really go anywhere in this particular book, but which the reader of a series might have appreciated.

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1626071/16-tasks-of-the-festive-season-square-4-penance-day-soul-searching-or-is-it

The 5 Things I’m Most Grateful For in Life

16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 4 – Thanksgiving

Tasks for Thanksgiving Day: List of 5 things you’re grateful for.

Three days late, but anyway, here we go:

1.) My mom.  Life wasn’t always a bed of roses for her, but she brought me up never once letting me feel it.  Praise was always more lavish than criticism — in fact, the mere absence of praise and a subdued showing of disappointment usually took the place of overt criticism, and that was all that was needed.  It was my mom who fostered my love of reading and travel — even from my earliest years on, she took me abroad at least once a year — and of every activity that expanded my scope of vision.  From my earliest days on, she was the closest friend I ever had.  Yet she never once challenged my decision to move to Berlin (a day’s travel away by car or train then) after I had graduated from university, and later even to the U.S.  And after 20+ years of wanderings, I was happy to move back to Bonn, and close to her at last, so as to be able to be around when she needs me. She’ll be 80 next year but doesn’t look nearly that.  Our / her family tend to live very long lives — I sure hope that’s true and we’ll be able to enjoy each other’s company for a long time yet!

 

Traveling with mom to Spain, the Netherlands and the French Riviera (my mom took the picture, so she isn’t in it), and at home, during an autumn walk and on my grandparents’ balcony (they lived at walking distance from us).

 

2.) My cats.  All of them, beginning with Gypsy, who stole my heart almost 20 years ago at the end of my final term at Cornell and stayed with me until his body finally gave out on him after he’d reached a Methusalean age (I never knew what age exactly he’d reached; his last vet thought he was at least 19 or 20), continuing with Holly and Tiger, born in the wilds of Grand Canyon and a Los Angeles back alley garbage dump respectively, who found their homes with me after having been saved from certain death by guardian angels in 2000 and 2002 respectively; and now, finally, Teddy, who’s been making his home with me since this past June, and is learning, for the first time in a life spent out on the street so far, that humans aren’t all evil and can even (gasp — what a notion!) be trusted, at least to a certain extent.


Top: My two black boys, Gypsy (R.I.P. 2008) and Teddy
Bottom: the two girls at play (left Holly, R.I.P. 2016, right Tiger, R.I.P. 2012).

 

3.) The fact that my office has survived the first year of its existence.  I left my former firm and set up an office of my own at the end of last year, and though I knew I wouldn’t be starving, there’s always a huge amount of uncertainty connected with such a step; not least because both clients and peers will perceive you differently once you’re no longer connected with a powerful, well-established firm.  But this year has, overall, been better than I expected, and it looks very much like next year’s intake is ensured as well.  Of course it can still all go down really fast, but so far, things are exceeding expectations, and that surely is something to be thankful for.

 

4.)  My books!  All of them, every book that I ever read — even the bad ones.  I taught myself to read while most of the rest of my class was still stuck in the early stages of their ABC so as to finally be able to read the books that others (chiefly my mom) had, so far, been reading to me … and I’ve never looked back.

 

5.)  My friends.  This community (as the recent site maintenance hickups very unnecessarily brought home yet again) and in real life, chiefly my BFF Gaby, who is one of the most courageous persons I’ve ever known — and we’ve known each other ever since high school.  She’s been born with a slew of handicaps, not all of them as visible as the fact that she requires crutches and a wheelchair to move any distances longer than a few 100 feet, but this doesn’t stop her from living a fully realized life — which on her job side, includes business trips to such places as Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mali or, more recently, the part of Turkey just on the other side of the border from the Iraqi civil war zone.  She is always ready to stand up for her own rights as well as those of others, always has an ear for other people’s troubles, and is, all around, the most generous and loyal friend anybody could possibly wish for.

  Top: Mexico (December 1994 / January 1995) — together at Teotihuacán, and Gaby climbing up the stairs of El Capitán, the big pyramid at Chichén-Itzá
Bottom: Edinburgh (2006)

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1618565/16-tasks-of-the-festive-season-square-4-thanksgiving

16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Fourth Square – Penance Day and Thanksgiving

Apologies; this post was intended to go up earlier, but I was stuck in a meeting almost all day long.

 

Buß- und Bettag (Penance Day, or Day of Repentance and Prayer) (November 22)

Buß- und Bettag was a public holiday in Germany until 1994, and is still a public holiday in Saxony and a school holiday in Bavaria.  In Germany and Switzerland, Protestant church bodies of Lutheran, Reformed (Calvinist) and United denominations celebrate a day of repentance and prayer on the penultimate Wednesday before the beginning of the Protestant liturgical year on the first Sunday of Advent (i.e., the Wednesday that falls between November 16 and 22.

The Reading Tasks:

Read a book that has a monk, nun, pastor / preacher, priest or other representative of the organized church as a protagonist, or where someone is struggling with feelings of guilt or with their conscience (regardless over what).

–OR–

Other Tasks:

Tell us – what has recently made you stop in your tracks and think? –OR– What was a big turning point in your life? –OR– Penance Day is a holiday of the Protestant church, which dates its origins, in large parts, to Martin Luther, who published his “95 Theses” exactly 500 years ago this year. Compile a catalogue of theses (it needn’t be 95) about book blogging! What suggestions or ideas would you propose to improve the experience of book blogging?

 

Thanksgiving (November 23)

To most of this community, this is going to be carrying turkeys to Plymouth, but just in case …

Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday celebrated in the United States, Canada, some of the Caribbean islands, and Liberia.  It began as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year; similarly named festival holidays occur in Germany and Japan, albeit not at the same time.  Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States and on the second Monday of October in Canada.  Although Thanksgiving has historical roots in religious and cultural traditions, it has long been celebrated as a secular holiday as well; in the U.S. the First Thanksgiving is believed to have been held by the Puritan settlers in the early 17th century.  Traditions associated with Thanksgiving in North America include family gatherings for a dinner of roasted turkey, potatoes, squash / pumpkins and gravy, as well as spiced pumpkin or apple pie for desert.

The Reading Tasks:

Read a book with a theme of coming together to help a community or family in need. –OR– A book with a turkey or pumpkin on the cover.

–OR–

Other Tasks:

List of 5 things you’re grateful for –OR– a picture of your thanksgiving feast; post your favourite turkey-day recipe. –OR– Be thankful for yourself and treat yourself to a new book – post a picture of it.

Bonus task: share your most hilarious turkey-day memory.

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1617707/16-tasks-of-the-festive-season-fourth-square-penance-day-and-thanksgiving

The Festive Tasks in Calendar Form – November

Reblogged from: Murder by Death

 

I’m a visual person, and after all the planning, writing up and editing, I’ve long lost track of which book themes and which tasks are associated with which holidays, so I made this up for myself.  I’m posting it here in case anyone else might find it useful.

December is in a separate post.

 

 

Square #1

Book themes for Día de Muertos and All Saint’s Day:
A book that has a primarily black and white cover, or
A book that has all the colours (ROYGBIV) together on the cover.

Tasks for Día de Muertos and All Saint’s Day: create a short poem, or an epitaph for your most hated book ever.

Tasks for Calan Gaeaf: If you’re superstition-proof, inscribe your name on a rock, toss it in a fire and take a picture to post –OR–
Make a cozy wintertime dish involving leeks (the national plant of Wales) and post the recipe and pictures with your thoughts about how it turned out.

Book themes for Calan Gaeaf:
Read any of your planned Halloween Bingo books that you didn’t end up reading after all, involving witches, hags, or various types of witchcraft –OR–
Read a book with ivy or roses on the cover, or a character’s name/title of book is/has Rose or Ivy in it.

 

Square #2

Book themes for Guy Fawkes Night: Any book about the English monarchy (any genre), political treason, political thrillers, or where fire is a major theme, or fire is on the cover.

Tasks for Guy Fawkes Night: Post pictures of past or present bonfires, fireworks (IF THEY’RE LEGAL) or sparklers. –OR–
Host a traditional English tea party, or make yourself a nice cup of tea and settle down with a good book to read.  Which kind of tea is your favorite? Tell us why.

Book themes for Bon Om Touk:  Read a book that takes place on the sea, near the sea, or on a lake or a river, or read a book that has water on the cover.

Tasks for Bon Om Touk:  Post a picture from your most recent or favorite vacation on the sea (or a lake, river, or any other body of water larger than a puddle), or if you’re living on the sea or on a lake or a river, post a picture of your favorite spot on the shore / banks / beach / at the nearest harbour.

 

Square #3

Book themes for St. Martin’s Day: Read a book set on a vineyard, or in a rural setting, –OR–
A story where the MC searches for/gets a new job.  –OR–
A book with a lantern on the cover, or books set before the age of electricity. –OR–
A story dealing with an act of selfless generosity (like St. Martin sharing his cloak with a beggar).

Book themes for Veteran’s Day/Armistice Day: Read a book involving veterans of any war, books about WWI or WWII (fiction or non-fiction).  –OR–
Read a book with poppies on the cover.

Tasks for St. Martin’s Day: Write a Mother Goose-style rhyme or a limerick; the funnier the better.  –OR–
Take a picture of the book you’re currently reading, next to a glass of wine, or the drink of your choice, with or without a fire in the background.  –OR–
Bake Weckmann; if you’re not a dab hand with yeast baking, make a batch of gingerbread men, or something else that’s typical of this time of the year where you live.  Post pics of the results and the recipe if you’d like to share it.

Tasks for Verteran’s Day/Armistice Day: Make, or draw a red poppy and show us a pic of your red poppy or other symbol of remembrance –OR–
Post a quote or a piece of poetry about the ravages of war.

 

Square #4

Book themes for Penance Day: Read a book that has a monk, nun, pastor / preacher or priest as a protagonist, or where someone is struggling with feelings of guilt or with their conscience (regardless over what).

Book themes for Thanksgiving Day: Books with a theme of coming together to help a community or family in need.  –OR–
Books with a turkey or pumpkin on the cover.

Tasks for Penance Day: Tell us – what has recently made you stop in your tracks and think?  What was a big turning point in your life?  –OR–
Compile a catalogue of theses (it needn’t be 95) about book blogging!  What suggestions or ideas would you propose to improve the experience of book blogging?

Tasks for Thanksgiving Day: List of 5 things you’re grateful for –OR–
Post a picture of your thanksgiving feast; or your favourite turkey-day recipe.  –OR–
Be thankful for yourself and treat yourself to a new book and post a picture of it.

Bonus task:  share your most hilarious turkey-day memory.

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1613711/the-festive-tasks-in-calendar-form-november