Wednesday, January 11, 2017

An Alabama Christmas

An Alabama ChristmasAn Alabama Christmas by Truman Capote
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I’m a sucker for Christmas books and stories. It probably started in childhood with How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, and has just grown over the years. Every Christmas, I not only reread the Grinch Book, but also Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, The Chimes and The Cricket on the Hearth, and usually some other Christmas books and stories. When I saw this book at a used book store, I just had to have it to add to my collection of Christmas reading. Boy, was I disappointed!!

First of all, the quality of the writing of most of these stories is about what I’d expect to see from a Writing 101 course - half-fulfilled ideas, stilted prose, and even poor grammar!! (For example, using “loose” instead of “lose”.) The only two selections that rose above this were those by Helen Keller and Truman Capote, but even these stories lacked much emotion. I like my Christmas stories to tug at my heartstrings, and these failed to do so, though the Keller story was at least interesting. Some of the stories weren’t half bad, but there wasn’t really any one that made me want to keep this book for rereading.

But these complaints are not what earns this book a one-star rating. No, this book deserves the worst rating because of the story “Christmas on the Old Plantation” by Idora McClellan Moore. This story relates what the author believes is a warm, nostalgic Christmas on a Southern plantation. But the story is full of such awful stereotypes that I had to wonder if I’d been transported back in time to the 1800’s!! There’s the white family who owns the plantation, who magnanimously allows the blacks on the plantation to come to the “big house” on Christmas day to each receive a token gift. There’s the description of the “childlike” blacks celebrating in their own style, and the horrible ways the blacks are portrayed as serving their white “masters” - though, at least the author was aware enough not to call them masters, but it was evident in context. The whole story just turned my stomach.

Do not buy this book. Do not read this book. It’s a waste of your time. There are MUCH better Christmas books out there!

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