31 Days of Reading Well: Day 24

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Revisiting the Past

Perhaps it’s just the writer in me, but certain words or phrases can trigger a memory so sharp I can practically feel it pierce the top layer of my skin.

Two years ago or so, I reread The Thanksgiving Visitor by Truman Capote, many, many years after reading it for a middle-school class. It almost seemed that some of the phrases were printed in bold, so familiar they seemed as they jumped off the page and started playing hopscotch in my brain.

Just a flash, I am in eighth-grade English with Mrs. Long and her gigantic bun atop her gray head. She wears housecoats and talks so slowly I can barely make it through the class. Compared to my seventh-grade English teacher, one of my top-three teachers of all time, she might as well be the Wicked Witch of the West. And she certainly doesn’t appreciate my writing enough.

I think I am clever for using the computer thesaurus to come up with the alliterative title “Polish Palaver” for a persuasive essay. I write about how girls shouldn’t venture so far from pinks and reds … and then find myself wearing dark purple nail polish quite often the next school year.

But oh, my essay on The Thanksgiving Visitor. It comes back with wild red circles and things crossed out. I didn’t put the right words in quotes. I wrote about Capote’s comparison of lions and chrysanthemums, but all the “roars” and “lions” were not quoted correctly. In her opinion.

I still don’t care for overused quotation marks.

What’s amazing to me is how much of the tale I could remember with all of those years in between readings. Capote captures his childhood eloquently with details that breathe. Those lions … Capote’s “friend” … his wild family … they are true enough and forceful enough to be carved into my mind, despite the baby brain and schedules and mania of adult life.

You won’t regret taking an hour to read this short story. Let me know what you think about it.

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