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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2003
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
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
on November 4, 2004
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. The fifth and final story in the book is "The Grandstand Passion Play Of Delbert And The Bumpus Hounds", a story about The Parkers' hillbilly neighbors, and their unruly pack of dogs. The book, and Shepherd's writing and immaculate way of spinning a yarn, is so drenched in Americana and nostalgia, that you can definiltey imagine the whole thing in your head and feel as if you are there. You can actually see Ralphie's eyes, or any other of the characters. He writes with such a sure, warm hand, that it feels as if he is writing directly to you and that you could of been a part of this. If that makes any kind of sense at all. It will surprise many when you read the book and find out that things were not originally written like it is in the movie. Shepherd wrote the script to the movie, and when he did, probably to make it movie length, he incorporated the stories of Little Orphan Annie, the leg lamp, the bully, and The Bumpus hounds, into the script, and wove it into a coherent and sensible script. Thank god he did. Can you imagine the movie today without any of those side stories?. I don't think so. I also find it interesting that the parents are always 'Mom' and 'The Old Man'. Fans might be disappointed with some things that were changed for the movie. And changed for the better. For instance, the pink bunny costume was originally just a pair of slippers. Slippers? funny. Big pink bunny costume?. Very funny!!. And other things. Still, it is a warm and brilliant display of writing that will warm the heart on the coldest, and snowiest, day of the season. Perfect to own, and to be cherished year after year. Same with the movie.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on December 20, 2004
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.

In his writing, Shepherd found ways to make his childhood relate to the general experiences of American childhood. He may have listened to the radio, but kids have the shows they won't miss, whether they're on radio or TV, complete with sponsors who look for a way to get paid. Many adults survived childhood by somehow surviving the Grover Dills in their lives. Even worse than the smell of the steel mills were the sights and smells that emanated from the Bumpus residence, which included outhouses and tired hounds sleeping with the tired rats they chased. Yet, Ralphie uses his young mind to use Red Ryder ads on his parents in the same way Ovaltine used product placement in Little Orphan Annie. Ralphie's lack of subtlety, though, is absolutely hilarious. The leg lamp story shows even adults have their favorite toys, too. Hohman, Indiana, could have been any American city, and Ralphie Parker could have been any kid. Most readers didn't grow up with Ralphie, but it's not hard to laugh with him and to find common bonds as well.

Jean Shepherd wrote four collections of short stories about Ralphie Parker. Five of the best tales became the basis for both the film and the book versions of "A Christmas Story." The works of Jean Shepherd were among the reasons I decided to try my hand at fiction writing (Three of my stories are a part of my Epinions output). Even though I have all four original titles, I was happy to revisit the world Shepherd created in his fiction. Through his humor and his imagery, Jean Shepherd took people to the sort of place they knew in childhood. Dreams get dashed and egos get deflated, but a nice hot supper awaits at the end of the day's travails. No good day ends without savoring some little victory, and Ralphie Parker had plenty of those to savor.

Originally published on Epinions.com.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
When we were kids, we used to take out our transistor radios, get under the covers at night and try to tune in WOR from New York which was usually able to be heard at night from our home in suburban Philadelphia. The allure of this activity was Jean Shepherd telling hilarious stories of his childhood in his cheerful, fruity voice. It was a forbidden pleasure (staying awake after 10:30pm on a school night) and you could both recount the stories and brag about staying up the next day at school (if you didn't doze off in class.)

Five of Shepherd's stories were melded into the film "A Christmas Story" which among my friends is counted as one of the funniest films ever. When I finally saw the film, I was transported, not only because it IS the funniest Christmas film ever, but I was a big fan of Shepherd's.

The film was composed of various short stories Shepherd wrote over the years, and they are narrated here by Dick Cavett, so you can enjoy them in your car or at home on the cd player.

Sadly, though the stories are as good as ever, Dick Cavett's light voice is too "amusing news story" style for my tastes. I think these need a richer, deeper voice. And worse yet, the background music and sounds detract rather than add to the story. The tale of the leg-shaped lamp in particular is marred by someone's idea of burlesque music in the background. Let the imagination fill in the sounds, I say. The narration (even Cavett's) should be enough. And for people with hearing discrimination problems (when background noise obscures consonants of words), the music tumult makes listening to a story difficult and irritating.

I was disappointed by this production, as the publisher is usually one of the best for audio books. If you can find a tape of Jean Shepherd narrating these stories instead, I'd recommend that.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2009
These stories are great, and it's fun to see them all together in one production. I loved the film, "A Christmas Story", and it's interesting to see the similarities and the differences between the original stories and how they were adapted to fit the movie. However, it really wasn't necessary to add the sound to the reading. I felt like it was a cheap trick to try to get more people who saw the movie to buy this CD set, but it really detracted from the reading. I mean, I can accept that the book and the movie are different. I don't need the publishing company to add sounds that allude to the movie in order for me to be interested in the original stories!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 28, 2008
Let me say first off that this is NOT the "Book of the Movie". Nor is it a single work, as the blurb on the cover may lead one to believe. This book is a compilation of the original wryly funny Jean Shephard short stories, that were developed by him into the classic film. These include the saga of the Red Ryder BB gun, naturally, the "Major Award", "Grover Dill" AKA "Scutt Farkus" and the Bumpuses; though one learns more about them, than just their hounds.
The whole book runs to only 130 pages, and is a perfect size for a stocking stuffer, or a gift for those folks one just doesn't know what to buy: work, "Secret Santas" etc. Recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 27, 2007
Haven't we all experienced Christmases gone wrong--burned turkeys, strange gifts, family misunderstandings? This book deals with all the things that can go wrong during the holidays...but it also shows that through it all, there are still a lot of things that somehow go right at Christmas...

Also recommended: Christmas Gifts, Christmas Voices--an inspiring Christmas story...
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
After having been a fan for years of the movie, "A Christmas Story" I've wanted for some time to read the original stories upon which it was based. Recently, that opportunity came to pass in the form of the audio version of this book as read by Dick Cavett. It did not disappoint!

In fact, I suspect hearing the book probably in many ways was even better than reading it. Much of Shepherd's genius is in the way that his writing appeals to the ear of the listener. Like most good story tellers, he uses cadence and pace to build anticipation in the listener. Of course it helps that Dick Cavett has a very mellow and rich voice and the experience to bring this story across well.

While many of the stories included in "A Christmas Story" were not originally set in the context of Christmas. That did not in any way detract from the listening experience for me. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the movie, in retrospect, captured the essence of these stories.

The only criticism that some may offer is perhaps the over emphasized hillbilly dramatization that Cavett performs. I frankly think it was in perfect keeping with the story itself which sets the tone and offers it own appeal to the common stereotype. As such, it reflects the story itself, rather than adding any foreign interpretation.

I can recommend the book itself for having listened to it and I'm sure it reads well. The use of sound effects and the skill of Cavett's rendering however, would lead me to recommend, if at all possible, that you listen to this book and I believe you will enjoy it even more.

Bart Breen
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 25, 2011
Wonderful story of Christmas, set in Cleveland,OH, in about the 1950's, presented in narration form by an adult remembering his childhood experiences surrounding a particular Christmas season. The story is based on a composite of various short stories by story teller and author Jean Shepard, who also acts as the narrator of the movie.His voice and narration adds a special almost personal dimension to the movie. This movie, appealing to children and adults alike, with its unparalleled humor and touch of nostalgia, has become, during the past several years, a classic equal almost to "The Wizard of Oz" and "It's a Wonderful Life". We have watched "A Christmas Story" whenever it was featured on TV, and, when we discovered Amazon featured it in its Blue-ray collection, it was a MUST-buy. I am delighted with the added almost 3D sharpness in the blue-ray version. This movie is worth being in everyone's video collection!
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