Saturday, December 22, 2007

Michael Dirda's five best Christmas stories

Michael Dirda, a Pulitzer Prize-winning critic at the Washington Post and author of several books about books including the recent essay collection Classics for Pleasure, named a five best list of Christmas stories for Opinion Journal.

The most recent title on the list:
A Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd (Broadway, 2003).

Set during the Depression in an Indiana steel town, "A Christmas Story" is the funny, nostalgia-laden tale of Ralphie Parker's quest for the greatest of all Christmas presents: a Red Ryder carbine BB gun. Originally part of the story collection "In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash" (1966), Jean Shepherd's mini-classic -- amplified with four related stories to make up this short book--vividly re-creates those rapturous, irretrievable Christmastimes of Erector sets, Flexible Flyers, Dick Tracy detective kits, Shirley Temple dolls, Lincoln Logs and Tinker Toys. Wrapped in layers of wool, Ralphie and his friends ooh and ah before the displays in department-store windows, visit Santa Claus and can hardly wait for "lovely, beautiful, glorious Christmas, around which the entire year revolved." As in Dylan Thomas's "A Child's Christmas in Wales" and Truman Capote's "A Christmas Memory," here is the very stuff that holiday dreams are made of. Let it snow.
Read about the story that tops Dirda's list.

--Marshal Zeringue