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Christmas Dwindles

Christmas Dwindles

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Published by OpenRoadMedia
Roy Blount Jr. is the author of twenty-three books. The first, About Three Bricks Shy of a Load, was expanded into About Three Bricks Shy . . . and the Load Filled Up. It is often called one of the best sports books of all time. His subsequent works have taken on a range of subjects, from Duck Soup, to Robert E. Lee, to what cats are thinking, to how to savor New Orleans, to what it’s like being married to the first woman president of the United States.

Blount is a panelist on NPR’s Wait Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me!, an ex-president of the Authors Guild, a usage consultant for the American Heritage Dictionary, a New York Public Library Literary Lion, and a member of both the Fellowship of Southern Writers and the band the Rock Bottom Remainders.

In 2009, Blount received the University of North Carolina’s Thomas Wolfe Prize. The university cited “his voracious appetite for the way words sound and for what they really mean.” Time places Blount “in the tradition of the great curmudgeons like H. L. Mencken and W. C. Fields.” Norman Mailer has said, “Page for page, Roy Blount is as funny as anyone I’ve read in a long time.” Garrison Keillor told the Paris Review, “Blount is the best. He can be literate, uncouth, and soulful all in one sentence.”

Blount’s essays, articles, stories, and verses have appeared in over one hundred and fifty publications, including the New Yorker, the New York Times, Esquire, the Atlantic, Sports Illustrated, the Oxford American, and Garden & Gun. He comes from Decatur, Georgia, and lives in western Massachusetts.

In this laugh-a-minute assortment of essays, travel writing, poems, and even the occasional crossword puzzle, Roy Blount Jr. covers sixty-four different subjects, all unified by his trademark humor. “Tan” is a personal essay about Blount’s lifelong battle with—sometimes for and sometimes against—that elusive summer glow. “Wild Fish Ripped My Flesh” chronicles his misadventures navigating the Amazon River. And “Lit Demystified Quickly” is a tongue-in-cheek poem about larger-than-life literary figures such as James Joyce, William Faulkner, and Walt Whitman.

Camels Are Easy, Comedy’s Hard is a classic compendium of the wisecracks and wisdom for which Blount is renowned.
Roy Blount Jr. is the author of twenty-three books. The first, About Three Bricks Shy of a Load, was expanded into About Three Bricks Shy . . . and the Load Filled Up. It is often called one of the best sports books of all time. His subsequent works have taken on a range of subjects, from Duck Soup, to Robert E. Lee, to what cats are thinking, to how to savor New Orleans, to what it’s like being married to the first woman president of the United States.

Blount is a panelist on NPR’s Wait Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me!, an ex-president of the Authors Guild, a usage consultant for the American Heritage Dictionary, a New York Public Library Literary Lion, and a member of both the Fellowship of Southern Writers and the band the Rock Bottom Remainders.

In 2009, Blount received the University of North Carolina’s Thomas Wolfe Prize. The university cited “his voracious appetite for the way words sound and for what they really mean.” Time places Blount “in the tradition of the great curmudgeons like H. L. Mencken and W. C. Fields.” Norman Mailer has said, “Page for page, Roy Blount is as funny as anyone I’ve read in a long time.” Garrison Keillor told the Paris Review, “Blount is the best. He can be literate, uncouth, and soulful all in one sentence.”

Blount’s essays, articles, stories, and verses have appeared in over one hundred and fifty publications, including the New Yorker, the New York Times, Esquire, the Atlantic, Sports Illustrated, the Oxford American, and Garden & Gun. He comes from Decatur, Georgia, and lives in western Massachusetts.

In this laugh-a-minute assortment of essays, travel writing, poems, and even the occasional crossword puzzle, Roy Blount Jr. covers sixty-four different subjects, all unified by his trademark humor. “Tan” is a personal essay about Blount’s lifelong battle with—sometimes for and sometimes against—that elusive summer glow. “Wild Fish Ripped My Flesh” chronicles his misadventures navigating the Amazon River. And “Lit Demystified Quickly” is a tongue-in-cheek poem about larger-than-life literary figures such as James Joyce, William Faulkner, and Walt Whitman.

Camels Are Easy, Comedy’s Hard is a classic compendium of the wisecracks and wisdom for which Blount is renowned.

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Published by: OpenRoadMedia on Dec 10, 2013
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12/14/2013

 
WE HAD FULL-BLOWN, GIBLET-GRAVIED, bright-eyed and bushy-treed, predominantly merry Christmases when I was growing up in Decatur in the Forties and Fifties, although one year Mother was sick in bed, another year Susan and I pulled the tree over onto ourselves, and another year Criselle came over and sat in my drum.I don’t remember minding too much about the drum; old Santy had brought plenty of other good stuff. I would assimilate as much of this stuff unto my person as I could at once and go down the street to show it off to my friends who had also gotten a lot. We lived in
a neighborhood of modest-sized homes, but kids would come lying out of them pumping
new bikes, sporting new football helmets and cowboy jackets, and waving new BB guns and Bunsen burners. Our parents had grown up without things and didn’t want us to. It would be several days before my sense of abundance wore thin and gave way to a sense of enough.
When I was seven, Santa Claus brought me our family’s irst television set, so that I
no longer had to walk all the way through the woods to Julian’s house to watch Woody Willow. This show, the Atlanta area’s answer to Howdy Doody, was something I watched nearly every afternoon for several formative years, but I don’t recall much about it. I had my birthday party on it once. (Are any shows that local anymore?) It advertised Peter Paul chocolate coconut pecan candy bars. It had, besides Woody himself, a character named Tilly the Termite. How an explicitly wooden boy and a termite can have sustained a long relationship, I don’t know. The candy is what stands out.
Little did I relect back then how abruptly I would grow up to father children of my
own, post-marionette-era children, who would genuinely desire for Christmas every blessed thing, except antifreeze and milk, that they saw advertised on TV: little plastic
 
placekickers that propel little plastic footballs over little plastic goalposts, little bendable rubber outdoorsmen that dress up like commandos and have jungle adventures, little plastic subdebs that put on bras and have dates. These children wouldn’t say, “Do you
reckon Santa Claus can ind a little man I can whittle a little cutlass for and make up
stories about?” They would say, “I want Six Million Dollar Man.” And when they got him, he wouldn’t be as animated as he was in the commercials.
It was before these children entered the picture that I spent my irst Christmas away
from home—in the army, on Governors Island, New York, just off the isle of Manhattan. I reached Governors Island on December 23, so I had to get a Christmas tree at the last minute. At the Quartermaster Filling Station, which was where people on the post got their trees, I saw laid out before me some of the wretchedest greenery I had ever seen, up to that time.We are all familiar with that sad scene of early January—those prone, used, residually entinseled, faded, and broken Christmas trees out in the street, awaiting the callous hands of the trash man. That was the scene, minus entinselment, that confronted me on December 23 in the Governors Island U.S. Army QM Filling Station. “Do you have any with needles on them?” I asked the attendant. “Back home,” I told him, “you see more festive greens than that on a stalk of collards.”He looked sympathetic. “Yeah,” he said. “We had four hundred trees come in this year.
Ninety-ive percent of ’em stunk.
At length I found one that was at least three-dimensional. I inveigled a few extra
branches to graft onto the trunk. At the post ire station I had everything dipped in ireprooing luid pursuant to post regulations, though none of it seemed much of a threat
to ignite.The next day, Christmas Eve, I went to Macy’s, where, just before closing time, I found myself in the toy department, which was a shambles. Very like Bourbon Street at 4:00 A.M. the last night of Mardi Gras. Presiding over one of the central counters was a jerkily oscillating plastic Santa Claus, showing wear, with a sign on him reading SANTA IS FOR SALE.

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