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  • Jeff Somers 7:30 pm on 2017/05/24 Permalink
    Tags: , , david sedaris, diaries, , , ,   

    10 Hilarious, Remarkable, and Poignant Moments in David Sedaris’ Theft by Finding 

    The humor of David Sedaris is often so understated it feels perfectly naturalistic, as if he’s simply making up droll anecdotes off the top of his head. But Sedaris worked at his craft for decades, and often despaired of ever succeeding at the writing game.

    This struggle is at the center of Sedaris’ new book, Theft by Finding, a collection literally taken from the diaries he has kept for more than forty years. Unvarnished, these entries offer up plenty of interesting and funny moments, some of which also serve as launchpads for his famous essays. Here are just ten moments in Theft by Finding (which ends in 2002, with a second volume to follow) that are alternatively hilarious, touching, and thought-provoking.

    Rapid-Fire Wit
    In the introduction, Sedaris interrupts a thoughtful rumination on the process of keeping a diary: “The point is to find out who you are and to be true to that person. Because so often you can’t. Won’t people turn away if they know the real me? you wonder. That me that hates my own child, that put my perfectly healthy dog to sleep? The me who thinks, deep down, that maybe The Wire was overrated?”

    At the bottom of the page, a footnote addresses what Sedaris hilariously imagines is the gravest sin admitted to in that paragraph: “I do not think The Wire was overrated.”

    The Banality of Evil
    Sedaris encounters all manner of freaks, weirdos, and oddballs, especially during his penniless days working odd jobs and obsessing over money. He never fails to make these moments count by injecting them with sophisticated humor. “Jews in concentration camps had shaved heads and tattoos,” he writes at one point about a skinhead in Chicago, “you’d think the anti-Semites would go for a different look.”

    Mistakes, He’s Made a Few
    One of the most remarkable aspects of reading Sedaris’ diary entries is how much we already know about his low moments and bad habits. Early on, in one of the first glimpses of his drug-fueled youth, he writes “Todd and I each took three hits of sugar cube acid. Too much. It was a real bad trip, like torture, enough to turn someone into a Christian.”

    The Time Machine
    Another fascinating aspect of Theft by Finding is literally traveling back in time through Sedaris’ writing. This comes through as both throwaway lines that remind us of zeitgeists past (“No matter where you go, you cannot escape the Bee Gees”) and devastating moments that call to mind what we have survived (in July 1981, Sedaris writes, “There is a new cancer that strikes only homosexual men. I heard about it on the radio tonight.”)

    The Heartbreak Kid
    Part of Sedaris’ appeal is the sad-sack aspect of his persona; he encounters the sort of terrible people we’re all far too familiar with—and he manages to turn his anger and hurt into savage humor, as in this line about a duplicitous lover named Brant he meets as a young man: “During sex he kept telling me that he loved me and wanted to get married, presumably in the next five weeks before he returns to Norfolk for the Summer.”

    He drops the hammer in the next entry: “I called the number Brant gave me, and it was made up.”

    Self-Awareness for the Win
    While it’s possible these entries have been edited and massaged more than we know, they remain remarkably clear-eyed. After the subject of attempting sobriety after being “drunk every night for the past eighteen years” comes up, Sedaris adds in this two-sentence entry: “Today I saw a one-armed dwarf carrying a skateboard. It’s been ninety days since I’ve had a drink.”

    Days of Future Past
    It’s thrilling when kernels of Sedaris’ formal work pop up in his diaries—you can almost see the wheels turning, as when he alludes to his time at SantaLand: “Yesterday a woman had her son pee into a cup, which of course tipped over. ‛That’s fine,’ I said, ‛but Santa’s also going to need a stool sample.’”

    Substance Humor
    The diary never treats Sedaris’ drinking and drug abuse in a melodramatic way, and it’s often the source of some of the book’s funniest bits, as when he describes the suffering of a hungover friend: “You’d think an adult would know better: beer on wine, you’re fine. Wine on beer, stand clear. But eleven Prosecco cocktails should not precede anything, not even a twelfth.”
    These are, it goes without saying, words to live by.

    Full Heart
    It’s not all jokes and skinheads; Sedaris also celebrates life’s incredible moments along the way, as when he first meets his future husband, Hugh: “I…got him to say that he hated me, which usually means the opposite….When I turned around to look at him, I saw that he’d turned around as well. It was romantic.”

    Simple Hilarity
    No matter how serious life gets, though, Sedaris can’t help but be funny, so let’s just include three random moments of hilarity we loved:

    “Talked to Rodrigo, who uses camebackir as a verb meaning ‛to come back.’ Nosotros comebackamos. ‛We come back.’”

    “Tiffany…is living in Queens and selling cocaine to make money. Before this she worked at Macy’s for a Belgian chocolate company. I think hers is what you call a checkered career.”

    “It turned out they were a pair of Jehovah’s Witnesses. This is better than being a pair of thieves, but still.”

    Theft by Finding is a surprising and unique work, the raw experiences of one of our most accomplished humorists and writers laid bare for our amusement and inspection. It’s also almost novelistic in the story of a life that it paints, slowly revealing themes, recurring characters, and a narrative drive that mirrors Sedaris’ development as a human being and an artist. In a word, it’s terrific.

    Shop all literary biography >

    The post 10 Hilarious, Remarkable, and Poignant Moments in David Sedaris’ Theft by Finding appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Whitney Collins 5:00 pm on 2016/03/03 Permalink
    Tags: , , david sedaris, , , , wiseguys   

    Shelf Improvement: Books to Improve Your Life and Library: Quintessential Wiseguys Edition 

    Shelf Improvement is a column highlighting books guaranteed to improve your library and your life. From literary fiction, young adult, and humor, to spirituality, autobiography, and more, no genre is off limits. The only requirement of the selections featured here is they must be transformative and page-turning. If you’re hoping to build a better bookshelf, Shelf Improvement can help you on your odyssey. The theme of this installment is “Quintessential Wiseguys.”

    Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, by Anthony Bourdain
    Love him or hate him, Anthony Bourdain is indeed a wise guy AND a wiseguy—the culinary world’s irreverent, sarcastic, and brilliant iconoclast. Once the executive chef at the renowned Les Halles, Bourdain is now a globe-trotting, f-bomb-dropping television personality best known for traveling to lesser-known locales and consuming their most obscure concoctions, such as seal eyeballs, living cobras, insects, and testicles, not to mention gallons of regional hooch. 

    A connoisseur of punk rock and hard drugs, Bourdain has his blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, is a champion of both Julia Child and America’s immigrant cooks, and absolutely despises ABBA, celebrity chefs, Chicken McNuggets, and vegans. All that said, this former two-pack-a-day smoker is perhaps as adept at writing as he is at cooking and offending. He’s written eight literary wonders, published countless articles, and now oversees his own publishing line at HarperCollins, which acquires a few eccentric titles each year. 

    However, the jewel in this bad boy’s cockeyed crown is arguably his riveting Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly. First published in 2000, this literary knockout holds no punches as it lays bare the real, raw, and riotous story of the restaurant world. From rampant substance abuse and disgusting sanitation practices to bacchanalian times in Tokyo and unapologetic industry backstabbing, this insanely funny (and surprisingly self-effacing) masterpiece is equal parts foul and fetching. You can’t help but adore its macho ruthlessness and loosely veiled sentimentality.

    The book begins somewhat tenderly with Bourdain’s first introduction to “real food” (when he discovers vichyssoise on a family trip to France), but by the second chapter—titled “Food is Sex”—things quickly devolve into the raunchy, spellbinding side of a budding chef’s life. And good luck putting the book down after that. With chapter titles like “Inside the CIA,” “Bigfoot,” “I Make My Bones,” and “What I Know About Meat,” you can rest assured Bourdain is here to entertain you straight through to the afterword. 

    Kitchen Confidential is particularly unique in its reach; I can think of no other book so expressly written for those deep within an industry’s trenches that is simultaneously so accessible to the layman. If you possess an ounce of curiosity about the people who cook your food and what makes them tick, this book is a must-read-in-one-day. (Some advice from someone who learned the hard way: buy several copies; those close to you would rather read it themselves than have you quote the entire thing aloud.)

    Born Standing Upby Steve Martin
    Steve Martin is best known for his distinctive standup comedy style and stellar acting career, while also revered for his Bluegrass banjo playing, for which he has acquired two Grammys. But Martin is also a wry and elegant writer, whose body of work includes humor pieces for The New Yorker, several plays, and the funny, poignant novellas Shopgirl and The Pleasure of My Company

    However, Martin is at his most honest (achingly and charmingly so) in his autobiography, Born Standing Up. This touching and candid life story chronicles his standup years—how he got started, what made him a singular sensation, and why he ultimately walked away from all of it, even though, by 1978, he was considered the biggest concert draw in the history of stage comedy. 

    Born Standing Up begins with Martin’s first job, at the age of 10, at Disneyland, where he sold guidebooks and perfected a variety of classic magic tricks. Readers soon learn of his strained relationship with his father, his struggles with hypochondria and anxiety, and his desire to study and dissect philosophy in college—a passion that eventually underscored all of his comedy routines. In an interview with Smithsonian Magazine Martin once described how he wondered in one of his psychology classes, “What if there were no punchlines? What if there were no indicators? What if I created tension and never released it? What if I headed for a climax, but all I delivered was an anticlimax? What would the audience do with that tension? Theoretically, it would have to come out sometimes. But if I kept denying them the formality of a punchline, the audience would eventually pick their own place to laugh, essentially out of desperation.”

    This philosophical approach to comedy ultimately made Martin’s routine not only completely authentic but utterly groundbreaking. It was both weird and genius, and because of that, his audiences could not get enough of it…or him. This unexpected pressure to consistently perform, interact with adoring fans, and somehow handle fame though truly a closet introvert—combined with his dedication to perfection—explain why Martin eventually bid it all farewell for quieter, and less public, pursuits. 

    If you’re interested in the private world of comedy’s original wild and crazy guy, Born Standing Up is a quietly epic memoir meant for your shelf. And there’s no better time to reconnect with this classic wiseguy; in March his first musical, Bright Star, debuts on Broadway, proving there’s still nothing he can’t do.

    Naked, by David Sedaris
    By now everyone everywhere knows who David Sedaris is, right? I mean, how could you be reading this and not be familiar with the unparalleled wit and weirdness of this charming, Greek Orthodox, gay humor writer from Raleigh, North Carolina, who dropped out of Kent State and rose to fame after he wrote of his experience working as a Macy’s Christmas Elf in New York City? Surely you haven’t missed out on all THAT.

    So, as predictable as it may seem to put Sedaris on a must-read list for quintessential wiseguys, there’s no way he doesn’t make the cut. And in my opinion, of all of his laugh-until-you-cry tour de forces, Naked holds up as his finest collection of genius to date—partly because it features the unbelievable essay “C.O.G.” and partly because it’s one of his longest books. Trust me: you never want them to end.

    Naked gives readers 17 whip-smart essays that are equally hysterical and poignant, ridiculous and dark. There’s the one about his childhood Tourette’s and OCD. The one about kicking his grandmother out of the house and into a nursing home. The one about the pornographic book that circulates though his family. And the one where his father blinds someone. Of course, there are also the ones about his sister’s menstruation, the Christmas whore, the handicapped dormitory, and the nudist colony. To say nothing of the one where his mother dies.

    And then there’s “C.O.G.” Oh, “C.O.G.” If you need to have your literary mind blown, if you need to have the heartiest laugh you will ever have, you must read “C.O.G.” In this essay (which has since been made into a movie by the same name), Sedaris describes a profanity-laden cross-country bus trip that results in hilarious and horrific work as an apple picker, a dodged sexual encounter in a trailer with a man named Curly, and an outrageous meet-up with a born-again Christian double amputee who makes jade clocks in the shape of Oregon. As you can imagine, these escapades culminate in one exceptionally original and outlandish tale—one that offers a darkly humorous and ultimately moving look at America’s most pitiful weirdos.

    If this overview of just one of the 17 essays doesn’t pique your interest, I’m afraid nothing will, but you should have Naked in your library anyway. All exaggeration aside, it is easily one of—if not the—greatest collections of comedy writing ever.

  • Kathryn Williams 5:30 pm on 2015/12/14 Permalink
    Tags: allie brosh, david sedaris, , , , shhhhh, The Office   

    6 Books for Your Secret Santa 

    Ah, the workplace Secret Santa exchange. When you are socially obligated to give a gift to someone for whom you would otherwise never in a million years intend to shop. Signing a birthday card “from us” is one thing, but a present that is small, clever, seasonally-appropriate, and under $20? Books. Books are the obvious answer (aren’t they always?). But before you browse, a few tips.

    1) Keep it clean. Fifty Shades of Grey? Do you really want to know that Mary in HR knows that you know what a butt drawer is? (Unless you work with nurses; I hear they are known for their dirty senses of humor.) Plus, OSHA.

    2) Keep it light. Chuck Palahniuk might be great for your brother-in-law who refurbishes antique torture devices on the side, but the intern can’t handle it. Plus, OSHA.

    3) Keep it impersonal. Yes, everyone is reading Fates and Furies, but do you really know the state of your boss’s marriage? Plus, OSHA.

    In other words, stick to the benign, the useful, the humorous, and the quirky, and you’ll be fine. May I recommend…

    Why Not Me?, by Mindy Kaling
    In the follow-up to her bestseller, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, comedienne, screenwriter, and star of The Mindy Project delivers the feel-goods once again with her likable brand of anxiety-laced you-go-girlness, with—it should be noted, because this is the point—increasingly less $h*t-giving. Fans of Kaling will delight in behind-the-scenes tales of her short-lived career as the only funny sister of Dartmouth’s Sigma Delt sorority, as well deets on her self-defined “weird as hell” relationship with ex-boyfriend and fellow funny person B.J. Novak. The other three people in the world will love it for the chapter on sex scenes.

    Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened, by Allie Brosh
    If your recipient is not familiar with Brosh’s highly addictive, off-beat, emotionally complex, and always funny webcomic, then you have just given him or her the gift of the year (or technically the gift of 2013, when the book was published, but better late than never—there’s also a 2016 wall calendar). Able to walk the thin line that connects dogs and cake to identity and depression, Brosh’s crudely drawn cartoons are not just about her life, little ‘l’, but big Life, capital ‘L’. The human condition is a lot more bearable with stick legs and frog eyes.

    Holidays on Ice, by David Sedaris
    The holidays can be a stressful time. Hence, the appeal of Christmas classics with overgrown elves, scandalous leg lamps, and flying squirrels. In other words, give us something to laugh about so we don’t cry. Sedaris, one of America’s most beloved raconteurs, wraps all that nostalgia, irreverence, and mayhem into one convenient 5″x7″ package of essays and stories, including a hauntingly familiar one about a barnyard Secret Santa swap.

    The Kaufmann Mercantile Guide: How to Split Wood, Shuck an Oyster, and Master Other Simple Pleasures, by Sebastian Kaufmann
    Whether your giftee is a hardcore DIYer or a relative newb to the world of adult self-sufficiency, this book offers delightfully practical tips for use around the office (how to brew coffee, how to knot and wear a tie), at home (how to care for wood, how to grow a tomato), and beyond (how to ford a stream). If you’re lucky, she’ll use the  instructions on how to saber a champagne bottle at the office holiday party.

    Thing Explainer, by Randall Munroe
    Using simple diagrams and only 1,000 everyday words, blogger and former NASA roboticist Munroe explains how various complicated things, from the International Space Station to the United States Constitution, effectively work. Fun and actually informative. Perfect for the co-worker who likes to stand in front of your desk trying to remember the word for that doohickey that does that thing to the whatchamacallit (i.e., stapler).

    The Secret Garden, by Johanna Basford
    Finally, something to do during a conference call besides Instagram! Highly detailed adult coloring books have swept the market this year, bringing back the simple joy of coloring inside the lines. Pair with a pack of colored pencils, and you’ve got yourself the perfect Secret Santa stocking stuffer.

    What’s your go-to Secret Santa gift?

  • Molly Schoemann-McCann 4:00 pm on 2015/09/16 Permalink
    Tags: , , Chelsea Handler, david sedaris, i am not myself these days, josh kilmer-purcell, telling it like it is, ,   

    YouTube Star Tyler Oakley on Oversharing, Favorite Authors, and Binge 

    Fans of YouTube phenomenon Tyler Oakley may feel as though they already know this smart, hilarious, and forthright star personally. But in his new book, Binge, Oakley opens up to readers, sharing stories about love, relationships, and other personal subjects he has rarely discussed until now. In this guest post, Oakley shares some of his favorite authors with us—writers whose wit, grit, and courage to share their own experiences have inspired him to dig deep.

    While writing my new book, Binge, I realized that what I most love to write are the things I most love to read. You are what you eat, and you write what you read.

    I love the concept of oversharing. When I read a Chelsea Handler book, I love knowing that nobody in her life is safe from being exposed. Whether it’s her best friends, family, or hookups over the years, everyone gets a moment on blast—but the biggest target of all will always be herself. She never comes out looking better than her counterparts, and I admire that. It’s easy and even fun to expose your friends, it’s much harder to do it to yourself. Chelsea is great at it, and My Horizontal Life is an incredible example. Between graphic sex stories and adventures with friends, I feel like I’m getting the inside scoop from a bestie anyone would wish to have. Having usually reserved all my juicy morning-after stories for gay brunch in West Hollywood, I became ready to finally share them with my audience, and Handler’s candidness showed me how to do it.

    Life is not always happy-go-lucky, and some of my favorite books from Augusten Burroughs look at the darker sides of growing up. To really know love and happiness, you need something with which to compare them, and when I read Dry or A Wolf at the Table, I’m shaken to the core and forced to face my own demons. While I was writing, a friend of mine asked if I left blood in the pages—if my book Binge would be more than a Draw My Life-style narrative of how I got into the YouTube scene, which is something viewers might reasonably expect from a YouTube personality. The answer is yes, I absolutely left blood on the pages. Sharing the worst days of my life may help readers in the same way reading Burroughs’s Dry helped me—to feel less alone. Some of these stories have been kept secret all my life—not even my best friends and family know the truth (until now).

    As a YouTuber, there are certain things I’ve always considered sacred—love most of all. I rarely discuss relationships in videos, although they’re at the top of every request I get from viewers. Love feels personal, and when someone shares the complete truth of one of their love stories, I feel privileged to be allowed a peek into that keyhole. Every time I read I Am Not Myself These Days by Josh Kilmer-Purcell, I feel grateful and understood. Even though it’s a love story between a drag queen and a meth-addicted hooker (and I am neither of those things…yet!), I relate to it. It’s raw, honest, and touches on the fears and insecurities that every relationship must endure. While writing Binge, I decided to share the story of my own first real love, and I hope readers can feel understood, too.

    My favorite authors, like my favorite YouTubers, are storytellers. Someone who can take something trivial and tell it in a captivating way will always keep me coming back for more, especially if their voice shines through. David Sedaris is the absolute best at this. His voice, both literal and written, is crystal clear, and his stories, even on subjects so small that the average person might overlook them, are always memorable and hilarious. My life has largely been about immediately oversharing on the Internet, but as soon as I began to write my book, my impulse to turn on the camera switched to picking up a pen. I’ve saved my absolute best stories—happy and sad, embarrassing and encouraging—for Binge. I hope even people who have never seen a YouTube video will be able to hear my voice through my own storytelling, and that it will offer them something meaningful and memorable.

    Binge will be in stores October 20.

    Photo Credit: Rae Marshall Photography

  • Dell Villa 3:00 pm on 2014/12/18 Permalink
    Tags: a christmas memory, , , david sedaris, , , , holidays on ice, ,   

    The 5 Greatest Christmas Moments in Literature 

    HolidaysonIce_hiresWhile Christmas in literature is nearly synonymous with A Christmas Carol and Little Women—and, to be fair, I’m an avid rereader of each mot holiday seasons—to neglect the equally powerful holiday scenes sprinkled elsewhere throughout literature is to miss myriad wryly observed, bittersweet, and often piercing visions of this emotionally turbulent season. Below, I’ve included five of my favorite holiday moments from classic and contemporary writers. From Sedaris’s sadistic SantaLand and Capote’s “brave, handsome brute” of a Christmas tree, to Fitzgerald’s “chatty frozen breath” in a St. Paul train terminal on a dark December eve, there’s something here for readers of many genres.

    From Holidays on Ice, by David Sedaris
    Lately I am feeling trollish and have changed my elf name from Crumpet to Blisters. Blisters—I think it’s cute.

    Today a child told Santa Ken that he wanted his dead father back and a complete set of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Everyone wants those Turtles.

    Last year a woman decided she wanted a picture of her cat sitting on Santa’s lap, so she smuggled it into Macy’s in a duffel bag. The cat sat on Santa’s lap for five seconds before it shot out the door, and it took six elves forty-five minutes before they found it in the kitchen of the employee cafeteria.

    From A Christmas Memory, by Truman Capote
    Scented acres of holiday trees, prickly-leafed holly. Red berries shiny as Chinese bells: black crows swoop upon them screaming. Having stuffed our burlap sacks with enough greenery and crimson to garland a dozen windows, we set about choosing a tree. “It should be,” muses my friend, “twice as tall as a boy. So a boy can’t steal the star.” The one we pick is twice as tall as me. A brave handsome brute that survives thirty hatchet strokes before it keels with a creaking rending cry.

    From Wishin’ and Hopin’, A Christmas Story, by Wally Lamb
    Madame handed Bridget’s baby doll to Zhenya. That was when the big fight started. Because Rosalie, who was still wearing her Wise Man costume, went kinda cuckoo and started screaming at Madame. “It’s not fair! I work harder than anyone in this whole class and you never appreciate it! And why her of all people? She’s an atheist, and a Communist, and she’s only been in our class since November! And you’re just a stupid substitute so I don’t care what you say! I’m Mary!” And with that, Turdski made a grab for Baby Jesus.

    But Zhenya, who’d told me she was “Russian Ortudox” not “no beleef in Gud,” was not about to relinquish the Christ Child to her chief critic. She held fast to the doll’s feet as Rosalie pulled it by its head. The rest of us, Madame included, stood there stunned. Something had to give, I figured, and then something did.

    As the doll’s head ripped away from its torso, Rosalie fell backward and let go. In horror, I watched the head bounce bumpity bump bump bump down the backstage stairs. Now, like Lonny a few minutes earlier, it was me who was wincing and doubling over. Joseph Cotton, Jesus: I would probably never, ever get to sleep again. And when I finally was able to look up at something other than the floor, I found myself looking into the wild eyes of Madame Frechette.

    “Monsieur Dondi!” she said. “Remove your hat, chemise, and pantalons.”

    I began to shake. “My what?”

    “Your shirt! Your pants! Depechez-vous! There is very little time!”

    “I can’t,” I said. “I’m the little drummer boy!”

    She shook her head furiously. “No more! Now you have a much more important part. You are our Baby Jesus! Hurry!”

    From “Christmas on the Roof of the World,” an essay for the Toronto Star, by Ernest Hemingway
    Chink had spent every Christmas since 1914 in the army. He was our best friend. For the first time in years it seemed like Christmas to all of us.

    We ate breakfast in the old, untasting, gulping, early morning Christmas way, unpacking the stockings, down to the candy mouse in the toe, each made a pile of our things for future gloating.

    From breakfast we rushed into our clothes and tore down the icy road in the glory of the blue-white glistening alpine morning.

    Later in the essay, he describes the aching beauty of Paris at Christmas:

    Paris with the snow falling. Paris with the big charcoal braziers outside the cafés, glowing red. At the café tables, men huddled, their coat collars turned up, while they finger glasses of grog Americain and the newsboys shout the evening papers.

    The buses rumble like green juggernauts through the snow that sifts down in the dusk. White house walls rise through the dusky snow. Snow is never more beautiful than in the city. It is wonderful in Paris to stand on a bridge across the Seine looking up through the softly curtaining snow past the grey bulk of the Louvre, up the river spanned by many bridges and bordered by the grey houses of old Paris to where Notre Dame squats in the dusk.

    It is very beautiful in Paris and very lonely at Christmas time.

    From The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
    One of my most vivid memories is of coming back West from prep school and later from college at Christmas time. Those who went farther than Chicago would gather in the old dim Union Station at six o’clock of a December evening, with a few Chicago friends, already caught up into their own holiday gayeties, to bid them a hasty good-by. I remember the fur coats of the girls returning from Miss This-or-that’s and the chatter of frozen breath and the hands waving overhead as we caught sight of old acquaintances, and the matchings of invitations: “Are you going to the Ordways’? the Herseys’? the Schultzes’?” and the long green tickets clasped tight in our gloved hands. And last the murky yellow cars of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul railroad looking cheerful as Christmas itself on the tracks beside the gate.

    What are some of your most cherished stories to pull off the shelf this time of year?

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