Thursday, January 2, 2014

As Good as Its Cover

I am happy to report that this book lived up to its cover, which is a relief  since that's why I bought it last February, and then I read it in December. A compendium of stories by writers such as Charles Dickens, Anthony Trollope, John Cheever, Evelyn Waugh, and Willa Cather, among others, can't possibly go wrong. One of my favorites was Cather's "A Burglar's Christmas" with its ending that stands before our eyes like a bejeweled Christmas ornament. Cather writes about the threads that bind us to eternity like no other American writer I know.

Although I had read Truman Capote's "A Christmas Memory," I found myself in near grief by the end of it--but his story reminds us that grief is rooted in love and celebration.

This collection gave me the opportunity to meet Grace Paley (1922-2007), a writer I not known of. Her "The Loudest Voice" (1959) of how a Jewish girl growing up in New York and her parents think about her participation in the school Christmas pageant was a perfect pointer to the survival of the Christmas spirit in our holiday season of today. For after all, as Paley's little girl thinks to herself on her way to sleep the night of the pageant, "I was happy. I fell asleep at once. I had prayed for everybody: my talking family, cousins far away, passersby, and all the lonesome Christians. I expected to be heard. My voice was certainly the loudest."

Grace Paley

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