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A Christmas Story: The Book That Inspired the Hilarious Classic Film Hardcover – October 28, 2003
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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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Top Customer Reviews
The book, like the movie, is the quintessential look at life in Depression-era Upper Midwest America. Back before the internet invaded our lives, back before satellite/cable TV, heck, even before black-and-white-rabbit-ears TV, the primary means of entertainment was radio, which people listened to every evening: Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, The Lone Ranger, and Red Ryder. I don't have to explain the overwhelming desire that Ralphy has for the Red Ryder carbine action two-hundred shot range model air rifle, all because of this radio show.
It might surprise many that the book has little in common with the Christmas movie. The book moves through five interrelated stories, starting with the BB gun story, and progressing through the months after Christmas, ending with the Bumpus Hounds stealing the EASTER ham and the family going to the "Chop Suey place" for their Easter dinner. Kind of a letdown. Shepherd wrote the screenplay to the movie, and he incorporated the stories of the secret decoder ring, the leg lamp, the bully, the Bumpus hounds, and of course, the Red Ryder BB gun, into a coherent and sensible script. I'm glad he wrote it this way; it makes for a much better Christmas tradition and taste of Americana.
The narration by Dick Cavett was pretty good, but there were instances in which his voice was simply overwhelmed by the sound effects. Yes, sound effects. Christmas carols, jingling bells, hounds baying, the kitchen sink gurgling, all of it got in the way. At first, it was cute, but as the book progressed, the sound effects guy got carried away.
I really only recommend this book (and narration) for those that are interested in where the classic Christmas movie originated. This is one of those very rare cases in which I can say, the movie is better than the book.
And for fans that enjoyed the film first, reading the book most likely will be a delight. One thing to consider, the story may be exciting to read aloud during holiday gatherings and readers recreating the hilarious parts of the story in their own special way because Shepherd's writing was so animated.
Most people know that the movie "A Christmas Story" is based on the writings of Jean Shepherd. What people may not know is that Shepherd didn't write a book called "A Christmas Story." The movie is based on selected stories from Shepherd's works over the years, with one story here and another there borrowed and adjusted to fit into the narrative of the screenplay as a single entity.
This neat little book gathers together those original stories from Shepherd's various works under a single cover that saves one the effort of searching them all out throughout his works. The stories are presented here as they are in their original form...which is to say that all of the incidents culled for inclusion in the movie were not necessarily Xmas-oriented in their original guise.
Worth having if you love this movie...and the price is certainly right.