Friday, December 23, 2011

A Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd

   We've all seen the classic Holiday film, A Christmas know, with Ralphie and his BB gun, "you'll shoot your eye out," etc.  Though Jean Shepherd admitted that much of his tales of childhood in northern Indiana are embellished, they are at least based on a true story (or rather stories).  His original collection of these tales appeared in the book In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash, which was published in 1966.  Nearly 20 years later in 1983, a handful of Shepherd's essays were the inspiration for the classic film.  And in 2003, the book A Christmas Story was published, which includes 5 essays from the original collection.

   Even though things occurred in a much different chronological order in the book, it's still a very funny bunch of stories that are (mostly) true.  However, fans of the movie may be a little disappointed to find that, in reality, many scenes from the movie did not actually occur at Christmastime.  For example, the scene where the dogs eat the family's Christmas turkey was adapted from Shepherd's original story about the neighbors' dogs eating their Easter ham.  And Ralphie's infamous fight with Farkus actually happened during the summer months.  So Christmastime plays a much smaller role in this book, but the essays are still funny and entertaining.

   I read this book aloud to my husband and we both laughed out loud quite a bit, but I will warn you that this book is not as kid-friendly as the film.  The Old Man's language is not censored here as it is in the movie, so it may not be great to read with a child, but adults may read this collection and get that same feeling of nostalgia and bubbly feel-good Christmas memories that the film offers.