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

4.4 out of 5 stars 113 customer reviews

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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 (113 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #261,645 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Just to be clear:

Three Stars: for this specific publishing

Three/Four/Five Stars: for Jean Shepherd's short stories (it depends on the story)

I love the movie "A Christmas Story," and I can relate to much of Jean Shepard's writings, however, if you are looking to buy this particular book expecting it to closely parallel the movie, you may want to consider buying "In God We Trust - All Others Pay Cash".

First, the book you are looking at right now starts off with "Duel In The Snow, or Red Ryder Nails The Cleveland Street Kid," which is the story centering around Ralphie's quest for the Red Ryder bb gun, which is the core of the movie. The rest of the book has the stories about the Little Orphan Annie decoder ring, the tale of the Leg Lamp, and an expose on the Bumpuses.

If you expect the movie from this book, be aware that there nothing about the 'tongue on the pole' dare, which I would bet is a lot of people's favorite bit from the movie. Indeed, Schwartz and Flick are basically mentioned in passing.

When talking about movies adapted from novels and short stories, people often bemoan the fact that 'the book was better'.

In this case, I beg to differ - even though there would have been no movie without Jean Shepherd's short stories, I still think the movie was superior to the stories, at least on the 'warm and fuzzy' level. Sure, the Old Man pulled through for Ralphie in the written story, but the film perfectly captures a father's love for his son when Darren McGavin watches as Peter Billingsley eagerly rips the wrapping off his prized gift.

Anyway, short of reading the script for the movie, if you want to read the Jean Shepherd source material, I would recommend getting "In God We Trust - All Others Pay Cash". It contains the Red Ryder and Leg Lamp tales, plus a bunch of other funny stuff.
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