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The Life of Saint Nicholas Hardcover – October, 1996

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

R.O. Blechman applies his trademark scribble to the life of Saint Nicholas, who was born a Roman citizen in A.D. 314 and developed a penchant for good works as a child. Blechman's saint is of the earnest, regular-guy variety, and his generosity constantly lands him in trouble. You could imagine him stumbling into a Frank Capra movie. But the goofy illustrations by Blechman keep the proceedings sincere without ever allowing them to get too sugary.

From Booklist

For readers used to seeing Blechman's cartoons in the New Yorker, it's a delight to see him range across an entire book with his distinctive, minimalist, shaky-lined drawings. While his figures are small and simple (dwarfed by a large, troublesome, usually absurd world), Blechman's wit is grand and sophisticated. Here, in this merry romp of puns and mockery, he relates the story of Saint Nicholas, a tale, he informs us, that can only now be told because an Italian farmer discovered an ancient manuscript while (what else?) digging for truffles. In a hilarious schematic, Blechman presents the manuscript's "travels to its final destination" (Akron, Ohio), a journey that involved a tussle between Sotheby's, the Italian government, and R. Jay Gatchall of J-Mart wealth and fame. This piquancy shapes Blechman's entire rendering of the life of good-hearted St. Nick, from days of childhood miracles to his unexpected (and diabolically clever) transformation into the jolly, red-clad being we dutifully worship at department stores each December. A perfect antidote to the commercialization of the season. Donna Seaman
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Stewart Tabori & Chang; First Edition edition (October 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1556705069
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556705069
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,680,335 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 10, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the most delightful Christmas books I've ever read, a mix of facts, fiction, and absurdity. Why the heck is it out of print?
An Italian guy walking his dog comes across the text for the life of Saint Nicholas -- hunting for truffles, of all things. It starts with a little Roman baby, born during the Christian rule of Constantine; it is rapidly found that Nicholas can bend cutlery (spoons, knives), transform wine into vinegar and vice versa, and eventually is able to make miracles: to simply will things into existance (sometimes with comedic results). He uses these talents for good; but is arrested when Constantine dies and a pagan emperor comes into power. Sounds dire? Believe me, it isn't.
Blechman does an excellent job of blending fact and fiction: Saint Nick could not create stuff magically; the lifespans of his parents; the three virgins; the giving away of his possessions to the poor, etc.
This is relentlessly tongue-in-cheek. I thought the transformation of the pagan statues into Christian statues was hilarious (especially the Jesus and the moneylenders one); the idea of how Saint Nick got his red suit, hat, bag and chubbiness; the dog named "Piano"; the rare intervals of dialogue are usually a hoot.
Blechman's cartoon style is sort of wavery and cute without being cutesy. He also manages to keep the story from descending into cutesiness, especially at the end, in which certain actions take a bizarre but somehow logical twist.
As the Christmas market is often populated by either feel-good fluff, sob stories, or cynically saccharine fables, this is refreshingly minimalist in its storytelling and illustration. It also, unlike many stories, addresses Saint Nick AS a saint; at the same time, it isn't a religious story, but simply a cute little semi-fictional retelling. A delightful holiday read, one that I will treasure.
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Format: Hardcover
This is one of the most delightful Christmas books I've ever read, a mix of facts, fiction, and absurdity. Why the heck is it out of print?
An Italian guy walking his dog comes across the text for the life of Saint Nicholas -- hunting for truffles, of all things. It starts with a little Roman baby, born during the Christian rule of Constantine; it is rapidly found that Nicholas can bend cutlery (spoons, knives), transform wine into vinegar and vice versa, and eventually is able to make miracles: to simply will things into existance (sometimes with comedic results). He uses these talents for good; but is arrested when Constantine dies and a pagan emperor comes into power. Sounds dire? Believe me, it isn't.
Blechman does an excellent job of blending fact and fiction: Saint Nick could not create stuff magically; the lifespans of his parents; the three virgins; the giving away of his possessions to the poor, etc.
This is relentlessly tongue-in-cheek. I thought the transformation of the pagan statues into Christian statues was hilarious (especially the Jesus and the moneylenders one); the idea of how Saint Nick got his red suit, hat, bag and chubbiness; the dog named "Piano"; the rare intervals of dialogue are usually a hoot.
Blechman's cartoon style is sort of wavery and cute without being cutesy. He also manages to keep the story from descending into cutesiness, especially at the end, in which certain actions take a bizarre but somehow logical twist.
As the Christmas market is often populated by either feel-good fluff, sob stories, or cynically saccharine fables, this is refreshingly minimalist in its storytelling and illustration. It also, unlike many stories, addresses Saint Nick AS a saint; at the same time, it isn't a religious story, but simply a cute little semi-fictional retelling. A delightful holiday read, one that I will treasure.
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