Friday, November 18, 2011
It always softens my edges, this well-spun tale about Buddy and his closest friend, Miss Sook, who is not just a friend but an elderly cousin. They're getting ready for a big Thanksgiving meal and everything is just fine this November 1932 until Miss Sook decides that Buddy should invite his nemesis, Odd Henderson, for the turkey meal. Capote is in fine form throughout the story. Here's our first glimpse of Odd:
The question is frequently asked: Who are children's books for? I say the best of them are for all of us, at every age. And I can't think of a better family tale for this time of year than The Thanksgiving Visitor.
Tall for his age, a bony boy with muddy-red hair and narrow yellow eyes, he towered over all his classmates—would have in any event, for the rest of us were only seven or eight years old. Odd had failed first grade twice and was now serving his second term in the second grade. This sorry record wasn't due to dumbness—Odd was intelligent, maybe cunning is a better word—but he took after the rest of the Hendersons. The whole family (there were ten of them, not counting Dad Henderson, who was a bootlegger and usually in jail, all scrunched together in a four-room house next door to a Negro church) was a shiftless, surly bunch, every one of them ready to do you a bad turn; Odd wasn't the worst of the lot, and brother, that is saying something.