A Christmas Blizzard
Large Print Edition
By Garrison Keillor
Thorndike Press, (2009), 336 pages ISBN: 978-1410423061
Genre: General Fiction, Humor
Reviewed by Israel Drazin - April 30, 2010
Garrison Keillor, the well-known radio figure on Prairie Home Companion and author of more than a dozen and a half books, wrote this funny novel about somewhat queer and comical people in humorous situations. James Sparrow made hundreds of millions of dollars selling a health product made from grass that coyotes ate during mating season. The food works on about twenty percent of the people who eat it. They are energized and can begin work early and end it late and awake each morning feeling fresh and ambitious. It does not work on James Sparrow.
Sparrow has several somewhat disabling hang-ups developed during his childhood. He hates Christmas, although married to a woman who overly adores the holiday. He remembers how his mother put up a Christmas tree, but was constantly, without let up, fearful that the tree would catch fire, so she doused it occasionally with water. His father complained every Christmas that his wife, James' mother, was spending too much money on gifts. So James was given a five year old used book with its original inscription that showed it was a gift to someone else.
Somehow, although she denies it, James' mother taught him not to place his tongue on a frozen pole because the tongue would stick to the pole. This developed into an obsessive fear. James is constantly afraid that he will stick his tongue on a frozen pole. Once he stuck his tongue on a shower pole during his shower and burnt his tongue.
James wants to get away from Christmas by flying to Hawaii on his private plane. He owns a home in Kuhikuhikapapa'u'maumau. His wife catches the flu and is unable to travel. James decides to go alone, but stops in North Dakota during an usually fierce blizzard to see his uncle who he thinks is dying. The storm strands him and he goes to stay in an isolated fishing shack so that he can be alone. There he meets a wolf, a lady with big hair, and a Chinese wise man. The three teach him the great secret of life. Then, like Scrooge in Charles Dickens' Christmas Carol, his life changes.
Dr. Israel Drazin is the author of fifteen books, including a series of five volumes on the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible, which he co-authors with Rabbi Dr. Stanley M. Wagner, and a series of four books on the twelfth century philosopher Moses Maimonides, the latest being Maimonides: Reason Above All, published by Gefen Publishing House, www.gefenpublishing.com. The Orthodox Union (OU) publishes daily samples of the Targum books on www.ouradio.org.