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A Christmas Blizzard: A Novel Paperback – Bargain Price, October 25, 2011

3.6 out of 5 stars 77 customer reviews

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Paperback, Bargain Price, October 25, 2011
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Keillor returns to the snowy Midwest to deliver a Dickensian tale of Chicago yuppies James and Joyce Sparrow, who venture to Looseleaf, N. Dak., to see James's dying uncle, braving a deadly blizzard and equally deadly small town eccentrics. The simple and well-written story is taken to fresh heights by the author's obvious pleasure in reading his own work. This polished production brims with seasonal cheer, caustic wit, and Keillor's signature folksy style. A Viking hardcover. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“This polished production brims with seasonal cheer, caustic wit, and Keillor’s signature folksy style.”
Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly )

“Rife with imagination and humor.”
Plain Dealer (Plain Dealer )

“In this manic lead-up to Christmas Eve, Keillor exhibits his brilliance for drawing spon-on caricatures.”
The Washington Post (Washington Post ) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (October 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143119885
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,495,201 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Garrison Keillor is the bestselling author of Lake Wobegon Days, Happy To Be Here, Leaving Home, We Are Still Married, Radio Romance, The Book of Guys and Wobegon Boy (available in Penguin Audiobook). He is the host of A Prairie Home Companion on American public radio and a contributor to Time magazine. He lives in Wisconsin and New York City.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Christmas novels are always nice to read, however this one of Garrison Keillor's is a bit different from what you might expect. It is not the sweet stories of the PBS show Prairie Home Companion, especially when you read in the first 2 pages that Mr. Sparrow, the main character, hates Christmas - the red-green monster - the world's longest and unhappiest holiday with the sheer horror of `The Little Drummer Boy'.
This story contains a lot of Midwestern guilt and woe, but yet its' little continual gems of exaggeration keep the humor alive: " it wasn't like her to fall apart like that, she being a member of the National rifle Association".

James Sparrow needs to learn to love Christmas, as his wife Joyce does and also get over his fear of freezing his tongue to pump handles- their siren call where he has to force himself to keep his tongue in his mouth and not on car door handles or bronze busts of Studs Terkel. His past contains among other problems; a mother who was obsessed by worries of the Christmas tree catching fire. James flies home to Looseleaf, North Dakota where he encounters his past in the form of a dead friend who is now a wolf. A big haired airline ticket lady, a cousin who is plotting to overthrow the US government and is married to an undercover FBI agent who has married her to keep an eye on her.

Through all the humorous absurdities James is rescued from his fears, the blizzard, potential arrest, learns to love Christmas, but most of all discovers the moral of the story: that small kindnesses can create great good...as good a moral as any for a Christmas book
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am a faithful listener to Prairie Home Companion. I usually have a hard time embracing Garrison Keillor's written oeuvre, and this book is no exception. His fiction usually reads like an extended Lake Woebegon monologue - he even steals plot elements from his monologues - and, really, in many cases the monologues themselves are exactly the right length. This is a relatively short book but I still found it a bit of a slog. It contains some fresher funny moments and some truly surrealistic elements (e.g., entering or exiting an ice-fishing shack on the lake, and finding ... not what or whom you would expect). This is not a cuddly I-love-Christmas book, and you need to suspend your disbelief quite a bit. I would call it a fable, but the moral is hard to discern. I guess it fits into the satire genre most closely. I'm pretty ambivalent about this book. Definitely read it if you like his fiction. I would rather listen to his show.
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Format: Paperback
Listeners of Keillor's weekly radio show may be surprised, and even slightly disappointed, by his latest literary work. A Christmas Blizzard is not a warm, fuzzy tale about the citizens of Lake Wobegon trapped in the basement of the Lutheran Church following the Christmas potluck.

This tale follows James Sparrow as he leaves the stress of his job, his wife and the holiday season behind and rushes to be with his much adored Uncle Earl who is said to be lingering at death's door. He finds himself in Looseleaf, North Dakota, which appears to be just slightly north of absolutely nothing.

He is met at the airport to find that the claims of his uncle's impending death have been exaggerated and the area is quickly being closed in by a blizzard. His one-day visit to his dying uncle has now become a visit with his extended (and crazy) family, with no end in sight.

A Christmas Blizzard is much like Keillor's live show- slightly sweet, acerbic at times, and more mature and worldly than Powdermilk Biscuits.

My verdict: Read it! It is impossible to read this book without hearing the narration in Keillor's rich, mellifluous voice. Take your time and enjoy this sometimes surreal journey into Christmas with family. If you linger, you will surely find a paragraph that speaks to you. Here's mine...

The red throw on the old green sofa was straight, the copies of North Dakota Geographic were neatly stacked, the fish tank bubbled away, the goldfish manuevered through the plastic vegetation, and the carpet where Uncle Earl liked to strew his books was clear--the books were lined up on the bookcase, a sure sign that the occupant of the house was no longer in charge.
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Format: Hardcover
Garrison Keillor, the well-known radio figure on Prairie Home Companion and author of more than a dozen and a half books, wrote this funny novel about somewhat queer and comical people in humorous situations. James Sparrow made hundreds of millions of dollars selling a health product made from grass that coyotes ate during mating season. The food works on about twenty percent of the people who eat it. They are energized and can begin work early and end it late and awake each morning feeling fresh and ambitious. It does not work on James Sparrow.
Sparrow has several somewhat disabling hang-ups developed during his childhood. He hates Christmas, although married to a woman who overly adores the holiday. He remembers how his mother put up a Christmas tree, but was constantly, without let up, fearful that the tree would catch fire, so she doused it occasionally with water. His father complained every Christmas that his wife, James' mother, was spending too much money on gifts. So James was given a five year old used book with its original inscription that showed it was a gift to someone else.
Somehow, although she denies it, James' mother taught him not to place his tongue on a frozen pole because the tongue would stick to the pole. This developed into an obsessive fear. James is constantly afraid that he will stick his tongue on a frozen pole. Once he stuck his tongue on a shower pole during his shower and burnt his tongue.
James wants to get away from Christmas by flying to Hawaii on his private plane. He owns a home in Kuhikuhikapapa'u'maumau. His wife catches the flu and is unable to travel. James decides to go alone, but stops in North Dakota during an usually fierce blizzard to see his uncle who he thinks is dying.
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