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

74 customer reviews

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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.

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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 (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,392,624 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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By wogan TOP 500 REVIEWER on November 5, 2009
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 a moral as any for a Christmas book
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 24, 2009
Format: Audio CD
The zillions of fans who enjoy Garrison Keillor's trademark warm , folksy humor may be a mite surprised and delighted I might add to discover that he can also be caustic - entertainingly so. Of course, a great deal of the pleasure in this tale is in the reading by Keillor - there's that unforgettable voice, familiar, spellbinding as he relates A CHRISTMAS BLIZZARD.

It is, of course, the holiday season, a least favorite time of year for energy drink company mogul James Sparrow and the happiest time for his wife, Joyce, Unfortunately, this year Joyce can't pursue her multitudinous yuletide preparations as she has the flu. James wants to leave it all behind, hop on his jet, and hide out for a while at their vacation home in Hawaii.

However, that's not going to happen as he receives a phone call with sad tidings - his Uncle Earl is dying in Looseleaf, North Dakota. So, James has no choice but to rev up the plane and head for his hometown. Once there he's not only almost buried by a sudden snowy blizzard but also by a horde of relatives and old friends.

For reasons perhaps not even known to the inscrutable James he passes himself off as a CIA agent and agrees to "hide" in an ice fishing cabin on the local lake. Well, this sort of exposure and dramatic change from the comforts of his ten-room apartment in Chicago can cause all sorts of strange reactions. Strange may be an understatement in the case of James - a confrontation with a wolf, the Big-Hair Lady, and a Chinese wise man.

Keillor is the king allowing us not only to enjoy his unparalleled narration but his fertile imagination in A CHRISTMAS BLIZZARD. Oh, and by the way, Uncle Earl is just fine.


- Gail Cooke
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Rushmore VINE VOICE on December 18, 2009
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Word Nerd on February 28, 2012
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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