by Jean Shepherd
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.
by Richard Scrimger
The story of one boy’s experience with the (not so) sweet hereafter.
Fresh from having stolen a piece of fruit and taunting the grocer, Jim, a fourteen-year-old wannabe gangster, bully, and car thief, is run over by a car. What follows is a hilarious, bleak, and ultimately hopeful visit to the afterworld, courtesy of Richard Scrimger, one of the country’s finest writers.
This is an afterlife peopled with unforgettable characters that might be drawn from video games: angry Slayers, tearful Mourners, and scary Grave Walkers. Jim meets them all and is given the chance to return to earth with the extraordinary gift of knowing what happens when we die. Now he must deal with living demons, including a neighborhood torturer and a truly creepy older sister. With imagery from the mean streets as well as the arcade, Me & Death is thought-provoking, exciting, sad, and funny — sometimes all at the same time.
What was in your "mailbox" this week?
In My Mailbox was started by Kristi of The Story Siren.