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A Christmas Story: The Book That Inspired the Hilarious Classic Film Hardcover – October 28, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

It's never easy to adapt a holiday classic, especially one that's best known now as a movie rather than as an assortment of radio addresses. This production, however, does an admirable job, using sound effects, mellow Christmas music and Cavett's wry, relaxed narration to draw out the down-home charm of Depression-era Indiana. Listeners will feel almost as if they're standing next to Ralphie Parker as he waits anxiously in line at Goldblatt's department store to ask "the Man, the Connection, Santa Claus himself" for a Red Ryder BB gun. The ringing of cash registers, the crinkling of paper and packages, and the excited chatter of kids are all audible, and Shepherd's sharp descriptions give every scene definition. Only the final story, "The Grandstand Passion Play of Delbert and the Bumpus Hounds," fails to live up to the standard set by the others. In this tale, the Parkers struggle to put up with their tobacco-chewing, hillbilly neighbors, whose dogs eventually ravage their Easter ham. Cavett affects an exasperatingly slow, guttural drawl for the Bumpus males, which makes them sound like caricatures. On the whole, however, Cavett's reading is superb, as are the sound effects. Though this audio adaptation won't likely achieve the same status as the movie, it's certainly worth a listen.
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.

From the Inside Flap

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.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; 1 edition (October 28, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767916220
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767916226
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,891 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Erika Sorocco on December 2, 2003
Format: Hardcover
A CHRISTMAS STORY features 5 separate short stories, involving young Ralphie Parker, and his crazy family, which have been taken from Jean Shepherd's best-sellers IN GOD WE TRUST: ALL OTHERS PAY CASH and WANDA HICKEY'S NIGHT OF GOLDEN MEMORIES AND OTHER DISASTERS, as opposed to being the novelization of the movie A CHRISTMAS STORY. The 5 stories, DUEL IN THE SNOW, OR RED RYDER NAILS THE CLEVELAND STREET KID, THE COUNTERFEIT SECRET CIRCLE MEMBER GETS THE MESSAGE, OR THE ASP STRIKES AGAIN, MY OLD MAN AND THE LASCIVIOUS SPECIAL AWARD THAT HERALDED THE BIRTH OF POP ART, GROVER DILL AND THE TASMANIAN DEVIL, and THE GRANDSTAND PASSION PLAY OF DELBERT AND THE BUMPUS HOUNDS, are all some of fans favorite scenes from the movie, which include how Ralphie discovers that his Little Orphan Annie decoder ring is really an advertisement for Ovaltine, how he defends himself against the bullies, Scut Farkas and Grover Dill, and the infamous leg lamp that his father (the Old Man) wins in a contest, just to name a few.
Fans of the movie A CHRISTMAS STORY, will relish in almost the exact likeness between the movie and the short stories featured in this collection. You will find yourself laughing out loud numerous times as you read about Ralphie's crazy family life, including his Old Man, Mother, younger brother, friends, family, and neighbors. A must-have this holiday season for all fans of the movie.
Erika Sorocco
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Tim Janson HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 2, 2004
Format: Hardcover
If you're like me, Christmas isn't Christmas unless you see this great movie at least two or three times during the holidays. Now, you can read the stories by humorist Jean Shepherd that inspired the book.
While all of the stories themselves didn't actually take place during Christmas, they were all woven together to make the film. Read about Ralphies quest for the Red Ryder BB gun, about the battle with bully Grover Dill, the "Old Man" winning the leg lamp, an more.
Five stories in all in this light, but funny book. It's interesting to see how the the stories were all incorporated into the movie and Shepherd himself was on the set making sure the director stayed very close to the spirit of his work.
Great book.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Barry on November 4, 2004
Format: Hardcover
When I think of my favorite Christmas moments, it all pretty much has to do with The Parker Family. Not Natalie Wood sitting on Santa's lap at the mall, or Jimmy Stewart running through his snowy town wishing everyone a Merry Christmas. But giant pink bunny costumes, a scary Santa with a big sled, a father battling the furnace, and of course, a Red Ryder BB gun. We have all come to love and appreciate the Christmas classic, "A Christmas Story", released back in 1983. With little fanfare in the beginning, it has grown over the years to match, and maybe outdo, yearly favorites like "It's A Wonderful Life" and "Miracle On 34th Street". This book, a collection of the works of Jean Shepherd, is what inspired the now beloved movie. I have never read it before, and I was quite surprised with how different it was. I wasn't expecting most of it. All of the little things in the movie we know and love, were not actually part of the original story. They were all seperate stories of their own, and most never even took place during the holidays. The first story, "Duel In The Snow, Or Red Ryder Nails The Cleveland Street Kid", is basically the Red Ryder Christmas tale we all know. There were some surprising differences, but I will let you find those out yourself. The second is, "The Counterfeit Secret Circle Member Gets The Message, Or The Asp Strikes Again", and this short story is all about the Little Orphan Annie and the decoder ring. Something that was put into the actual movie. The third story is, "My Old Man And The Lascivious Special Award That Heralded The Birth Of Pop Art", which is the infamous tale of Mr. Parker and his questioable leg lamp. The fourth is, "Grover Dill And The Tasmanian Devil", which tells the tale of the neighborhood bully, who was renamed Scut Farkas for the movie.Read more ›
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Pat Mills on December 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Jean Shepherd shared many a humorous account about his childhood during the Great Depression. Some of those stories served as the basis for the holiday film "A Christmas Story." However, the stories were never collected in one book until "A Christmas Story" was released in 2003. The five stories in this book were originally published in Playboy magazine from 1964-66. These stories, however, seldom involved specific ties to the Yuletide. Shepherd protagonist Ralph Parker draws some nostalgic inspiration by the events from his life in mid-sixties New York. For example, when Ralph visits a pop art exhibit, he's reminded of the winter when his father proudly owned a woman's leg lamp. His Red Ryder tale is inspired by a woman who wore a button demanding "DISARM THE TOY INDUSTRY!"

The other stories go directly to the childhood memories. Shepherd tells about Ralphie's devotion to the Little Orphan Annie radio show and his membership in her Secret Circle. Another talks of the day he'd had enough of neighborhood bully Grover Dill. The book ends with the entire saga of the months Ralphie and his family had to deal with the Bumpus family as neighbors. Those not familiar with the writings of Shepherd will not only notice the lack of seasonal ties, but they'll also see how other things changed, such as Grover being the main bully. One of the stories even refers to Ralphie's family as the Shepherds instead of the Parkers. Still, these stories have the essence of what made the movie so successful. Shepherd waxes nostalgic in great detail, but the nostalgia never gets too warm or fuzzy. Ralphie learns that life has at least one hard lesson for every wish that comes true. Even Santa joined in on the chorus of "You'll shoot your eye out" when Ralphie openly wished for a BB gun.
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