Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Short Story Wednesday: American Christmas Stories from the Library of America

 

Today I am featuring an anthology of Christmas short stories from The Library of America Collection. American Christmas Stories was edited by Connie Willis, and she has provided the introduction. There are 59 stories included.


From the dust jacket of this book:

Library of America and acclaimed author Connie Willis invite you to unwrap this diverse collection of fifty-nine enchanting and uniquely American stories about Christmas, literary gems that will delight and surprise.

Ranging from the advent of the American tradition of holiday storytelling in the wake of the Civil War to today, this is the best and widest-ranging anthology of American Christmas stories ever assembled. Ghost stories and crime stories, science fiction, fantasy, westerns, humor, and horror; tales of Christmas morning, trees, gifts, wise men, and family dinners everywhere from New York to Texas to outer space: this anthology is an epiphany, revealing the ways Christmas has evolved over time—and how the spirit of the holiday has remained the same.


I have only read one of the stories in this book so far. It is a story by Pete Hamill, titled "The Christmas Kid." Written in 1979, it is about a Jewish boy from Poland who has come to New York City to live with his uncle, following the end of World War II. He is an orphan and lost his parents to the holocaust. The story is told from the point of view of another boy in the neighborhood. It was a very moving story. I seem to be reading more sentimental stories this December.

This was the first thing I have read by Pete Hamill. If anyone has read books or stories by Hamill, I would love to hear what you think. 





18 comments:

Sam Sattler said...

That looks like a really good collection of Christmas short stories. I'm a big fan of Library of America as a publisher and have been collecting their books for years now. It's hard to go too far wrong with anything they publish, I think.

I've only read a couple of Pete Hamill's novels, but I am impressed with him...and wonder why I've only read North River and A Killing for Christ. The two novels are very different, and I prefer North River of the two. Hamill is quite the storyteller.

TracyK said...

I agree, Sam, I think this will be a good collection and it will certainly take me a few years to get through it. I still haven't finished all the stories from The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries that I bought over 5 years ago. I will never be wanting for Christmas short stories.

Thanks for your thoughts on Pete Hamill's novels. I am surprised that he never was on my radar before.

Rick Robinson said...

Oh, I’m tempted to buy this, but… (looks around the room, thinks about all the unread books in other rooms) no. Sure sounds good, though!

TracyK said...

It is a very tempting book, Rick, but I know what you mean about having too many unread books already. I plan to do better on cutting back book acquisition in 2022.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I have read A DRINKING LIFE and several others. He is a very fine writer.

TracyK said...

I thought you might have read books by Hamill, Patti. I will have to look out for something by him that I want to try.

Cath said...

I've become a convert to the short story. A few years back I would buy collections and then not read them. These days I try to read at least one volume a month. Currently reading a collection of Christmas murder stories and because the authors are so diverse I'm thoroughly enjoying it. Just finished one by G.K. Chesterton which reminded me how much I loved his Father Brown stories when I read them about 10 years ago. I think I might go back to those or maybe read one of his standalone novels. So do you find, like me, that these collections really inspire you by introducing you to new authors 'or' remind you why you love old favourites?

TracyK said...

Cath, I am having the same experience. I want to add new authors to my to read list or go back and reread them. I haven't ever read the Father Brown stories and I need to try some of those.

I need to be more disciplined and consistently read a certain number of short stories a month or finish the books I have started. I have many unfinished anthologies or collections.

George said...

Like Patti, I've read A DRINKING LIFE. I have a few more Pete Hamill books on my shelves waiting to be read. I'm ordering AMERICAN CHRISTMAS STORIES right now! Thanks for bringing this book to my attention. Somehow I missed it. Like Sam, I'm a big fan of LIBRARY OF AMERICA books and own most of them.

TracyK said...

George, A DRINKING LIFE does seem like an interesting read. I see that he has a short novel set at Christmas, THE GIFT. Not a happy Christmas novel, but I am liking short novels lately.

I don't have that many Library of America books. I have a set of eight novel by women crime writers of the 40s and 50s, and nine science fiction novels (Nine Classic Novels of the 1950s), and a book of five noir novels by David Goodis, and I think that is it. I would like to get the Ross Macdonald novels published by LOA.

Rick Robinson said...

I ordered it.

TracyK said...

I guess it was too tempting, Rick. I hope you will enjoy most of the stories. Seems like a wide variety, from early Christmas stories to more recent ones.

CLM said...

I don't think I've ever read anything by Pete Hamill but Connie Willis is more of a recommendation in my eyes!

I have not wrapped any gifts, except the ones that had to be mailed, or trimmed my tree but I bought The Appeal by Janice Hallett, which I think you would enjoy, for my sister and must finish it before Christmas! I decided I'd better do this before anything else. Luckily, they gave us Friday as a vacation day.

TracyK said...

Constance, I love Connie Willis's writing. I have read all of her time travel books. And a few of her short stories. She has one in this book, that was added after she made her selections. I tried the Pete Hamill story because she said it was her favorite in the book.

I checked out The Appeal at Goodreads, and it does sound very different and I think I will want to try it. I am glad you have Friday as a vacation day. I always loved taking a week or so off at Christmas, when I worked for the community college.

Margot Kinberg said...

I think people tend to be a bit sentimental about their Christmas reading, Tracy. And this one sounds like an interesting look at Christmas traditions 'from the outside.' The collection looks interesting, too, and I hope you'll enjoy it.

TracyK said...

I guess Christmas and sentimentality go together, Margot. But I remember a lot of darker reading connected with Christmas that I have read in the past.

Rick Robinson said...

Happy Christmas Eve and Christmas Day!

TracyK said...

Thank, Rick, the same to you and Barbara. It is sunny today, but we expect rain again tomorrow.