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In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash Paperback – April 28, 1991

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Editorial Reviews


"Shepherd has a fine eye for absurdity, for the madness and idiocy in all of us."
--Best Sellers

From the Publisher

Jean Shepherd once again takes up his satirist's pen to bring us another nostalgic portfolio of sketches that portray a more innocent era when life was good, fun was clean, and station wagons roamed the earth.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books (May 28, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385021747
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385021746
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (166 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,391 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

178 of 182 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 10, 1997
Format: Paperback
As I suspect has been the case with other younger adults of my generation, I first became familiar with the works of humorist Jean Shepherd after watching the delightful 1983 motion picture "A Christmas Story" (reviewed elsewhere in this catalog). It would take some time before I finally decided to read "In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash", which the movie was partly based on. Those of us who enjoyed Shepherd's side-splitting narration in "A Christmas Story" will not be disappointed by the book, although the movie is more upbeat and lacking the book's satire. The premise of "In God We Trust" is simple: New York-based writer Ralph Parker is back in his mythical hometown of Hohman, Indiana to write an article on this blue-collar Midwestern town for a magazine. Between drinks at his old friend Flick's tavern, Ralph reminisces on his childhood experiences in Hohman during the Depression and the colorful characters who were so much a part of the town. Throughout the book, Shepherd uses masterful similes and metaphors in describing the most basic aspects of life during Ralph's younger years. The book is funny indeed, and there is enough satire in the nostalgic references to disqualify Hohman from becoming a Norman Rockwell painting. There is also a feeling of pathos in Shepherd's brand of satire, as Ralph describes the drab experience of living in a town surrounded by pollution-spewing steel mills and oil refineries, a town where there is not much of a future unless you own a bar or used-car lot or work in one of the nearby industries. The denizens of Hohman do find moments of respite from the drabness during Christmas, the Fourth of July, the Thanksgiving Day parade, or a trip to the movies, often with hilarious consequences. After reading the highly enjoyable "In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash", I can understand how Jean Shepherd earned his reputation as a master satirist and raconteur.
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89 of 93 people found the following review helpful By Melani J. Whisler on January 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
I have always been a fan of the movie "A Christmas Story," and I can't even remember where or when I heard that it was based on Jean Shepherd's "In God We Trust All Others Pay Cash," but I do remember that rushed to the bookstore I work at (on my day off) and ordered in 10 copies. I read the book the night it came in and sold the remaining 9 copies the next day. I repeat this ritual every year adding more copies to my order each and every time. This book simply fantastic and I have never heard anyone say they didn't like it. The irony of Sheperd's narrative combined with the memories of childhood make a perfect post-Christmas read. No one can re-tell events as well as Shepherd except for maybe David Sedaris (Naked, Barrel Fever).
I usually cringe when books are made into movies, yet this story is so great that nothing could do it injustice.
I can't praise this book enough. Set in midwest during the depression, Shepherd shows that although times were tough, families were still families. This book is sometimes painfully, yet comically real, and I can't say that any other book has made me want to be as kid again - nor make me want to have a family - as much as Shepherd's.
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59 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Orrin C. Judd VINE VOICE on December 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
When Jean Shepherd died this Fall (10/15/99), we not only lost one of America's greatest humorists and a Christmas icon, we also lost a man who has discretely changed how all of us remember childhood. In fact, his influence is so subtle, that you may not even know who he was; but I guarantee, you do know him. Jean Shepherd is the narrator of, and the stories from this book are the basis for, the instant classic yuletide movie, A Christmas Story.
Most of the episodes from the film are here, including, of course, the Red Ryder BB Gun Saga, the Leg Lamp Incident, The F Word Debacle, etc. and Shepherd's contribution to our collective psyche is that we remember both these events and similar events from our own childhoods in Capital Letters now. In the same way, and at the same time, as Tom Wolfe was getting us to think, not of radical chic and the right stuff, but of Radical Chic! and The Right Stuff!, Shepherd was likewise taking the seemingly common stuff of boyhood memory and elevating it to mythic status. So for most of us, when we look back into the mists of memory, we don't simply recall "the time we broke the window", rather we summon forth "The Broken Window Incident". At least, I know I do.
Read the paragraphs below & see if you haven't subconsciously internalized the cadences, impossibly graphic immediacy and recall, mild exaggerations for comedic effect and epic tone in your own recollections:
First on getting ready to leave the house in Winter: Preparing to go to school was like getting ready for extended Deep-Sea Diving.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
Ever since I saw the movie "A Christmas Story" for the first time on TNT I fell in love with the eloquent writing of Jean Shepherd. The book "In God We Trust; All Others Pay Cash" is the funniest and most clever of all of the books I have ever read. For all of you twenty-year-olds who think this book is just another 50's boring sock hop cheesy story, think again. This book will have you on the floor in convulsions because of the non-stop laughter. BUY THIS BOOK :)
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