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A Christmas Story

Cover of A Christmas Story

A Christmas Story

The Book That Inspired the Hilarious Classic Film
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A beloved, bestselling classic of humorous and nostalgic Americana--the book that inspired the equally classic Yuletide film.

The holiday film A Christmas Story, first released in 1983, has become a bona fide Christmas perennial, gaining in stature and fame with each succeeding year. Its affectionate, wacky, and wryly realistic portrayal of an American family's typical Christmas joys and travails in small-town Depression-era Indiana has entered our imagination and our hearts with a force equal to It's a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street.

This edition of A Christmas Story gathers together in one hilarious volume the gems of autobiographical humor that Jean Shepherd drew upon to create this enduring film. Here is young Ralphie Parker's shocking discovery that his decoder ring is really a device to promote Ovaltine; his mother and father's pitched battle over the fate of a lascivious leg lamp; the unleashed and unnerving savagery of Ralphie's duel in the show with the odious bullies Scut Farkas and Grover Dill; and, most crucially, Ralphie's unstoppable campaign to get Santa--or anyone else--to give him a Red Ryder carbine action 200-shot range model air rifle. Who cares that the whole adult world is telling him, "You'll shoot your eye out, kid"?

The pieces that comprise A Christmas Story, previously published in the larger collections In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash and Wanda Hickey's Night of Golden Memories, coalesce in a magical fashion to become an irresistible piece of Americana, quite the equal of the film in its ability to warm the heart and tickle the funny bone.

From the Hardcover edition.

A beloved, bestselling classic of humorous and nostalgic Americana--the book that inspired the equally classic Yuletide film.

The holiday film A Christmas Story, first released in 1983, has become a bona fide Christmas perennial, gaining in stature and fame with each succeeding year. Its affectionate, wacky, and wryly realistic portrayal of an American family's typical Christmas joys and travails in small-town Depression-era Indiana has entered our imagination and our hearts with a force equal to It's a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street.

This edition of A Christmas Story gathers together in one hilarious volume the gems of autobiographical humor that Jean Shepherd drew upon to create this enduring film. Here is young Ralphie Parker's shocking discovery that his decoder ring is really a device to promote Ovaltine; his mother and father's pitched battle over the fate of a lascivious leg lamp; the unleashed and unnerving savagery of Ralphie's duel in the show with the odious bullies Scut Farkas and Grover Dill; and, most crucially, Ralphie's unstoppable campaign to get Santa--or anyone else--to give him a Red Ryder carbine action 200-shot range model air rifle. Who cares that the whole adult world is telling him, "You'll shoot your eye out, kid"?

The pieces that comprise A Christmas Story, previously published in the larger collections In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash and Wanda Hickey's Night of Golden Memories, coalesce in a magical fashion to become an irresistible piece of Americana, quite the equal of the film in its ability to warm the heart and tickle the funny bone.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Excerpts-
  • From the book

    DUEL IN THE SNOW, OR RED RYDER NAILS THE CLEVELAND STREET KIDDISARM THE TOY INDUSTRY

    Printed in angry block red letters the slogan gleamed out from the large white button like a neon sign. I carefully reread it to make sure that I had not made a mistake.

    DISARM THE TOY INDUSTRY

    That's what it said. There was no question about it.

    The button was worn by a tiny Indignant-type little old lady wearing what looked like an upturned flowerpot on her head and, I suspect (viewing it from this later date) a pair of Ked tennis shoes on her feet, which were primly hidden by the Automat table at which we both sat.

    I, toying moodily with my chicken pot pie, which of course is a specialty of the house, surreptitiously examined my fellow citizen and patron of the Automat. Wiry, lightly powdered, tough as spring steel, the old doll dug with Old Lady gusto into her meal. Succotash, baked beans, creamed corn, side order of Harvard beets. Bad news--a Vegetarian type. No doubt also a dedicated Cat Fancier.

    Silently we shared our tiny Automat table as the great throng of pre-Christmas quick-lunchers eddied and surged in restless excitement all around us. Of course there were the usual H & H club members spotted here and there in the mob; out-of-work seal trainers, borderline bookies, ex-Opera divas, and panhandlers trying hard to look like Madison Avenue account men just getting out of the cold for a few minutes. It is an Art, the ability to nurse a single cup of coffee through an entire ten-hour day of sitting out of the biting cold of mid-December Manhattan.

    And so we sat, wordlessly as is the New York custom, for long moments until I could not contain myself any longer.

    "Disarm the Toy Industry?" I tried for openers.

    She sat unmoved, her bright pink and ivory dental plates working over a mouthful of Harvard beets, attacking them with a venom usually associated with the larger carnivores. The red juice ran down over her powdered chin and stained her white lace bodice. I tried again:

    "Pardon me, Madam, you're dripping."

    "Eh?"

    Her ice-blue eyes flickered angrily for a moment and then glowed as a mother hen's looking upon a stunted, dwarfed offspring. Love shone forth.

    "Thank you, sonny."

    She dabbed at her chin with a paper napkin and I knew that contact had been made. Her uppers clattered momentarily and in an unmistakably friendly manner.

    "Disarm the Toy Industry?" I asked.

    "It's an outrage!" she barked, causing two elderly gentlemen at the next table to spill soup on their vests. Loud voices are not often heard in the cloistered confines of the H & H.

    "It's an outrage the way the toymakers are forcing the implements of blasphemous War on the innocent children, the Pure in Spirit, the tiny babes who are helpless and know no better!"

    Her voice at this point rising to an Evangelical quaver, ringing from change booth to coffee urn and back again. Four gnarled atheists three tables over automatically, by reflex action alone, hurled four "Amen's" into the unanswering air. She continued:

    "It's all a Government plot to prepare the Innocent for evil, Godless War! I know what they're up to! Our Committee is on to them, and we intend to expose this decadent Capitalistic evil!"

    She spoke in the ringing, anvil-like tones of a True Believer, her whole life obviously an unending fight against They, the plotters. She clawed through her enormous burlap handbag, worn paperback volumes of Dogma spilling out upon the floor as she rummaged frantically until she found what she was searching for.

    "Here, sonny. Read this. You'll see what I mean." She handed me a smudgy...

About the Author-
  • For many years a cult radio and cabaret personality in New York City, JEAN SHEPHERD was the creator of the popular film A Christmas Story, which is based on his novels In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash and Wanda Hickey's Night of Golden Memories, and which has become a holiday tradition on the Turner Network. Jean Shepherd passed away in 1999.

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  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.

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The Book That Inspired the Hilarious Classic Film
Jean Shepherd
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