Auggie Wren’s Christmas Story

ISBN: 0805077235
ISBN 13: 9780805077230
By: Paul Auster Isol

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About this book

A timeless, utterly charming Christmas fable, beautifully illustrated and destined to become a classic When Paul Auster was asked by The New York Times to write a Christmas story for the Op-Ed page, the result, "Auggie Wren's Christmas Story," led to Auster's collaboration on a film adaptation, Smoke. Now the story has found yet another life in this enchanting illustrated edition.It begins with a writer's dilemma: he's been asked by The New York Times to write a story that will appear in the paper on Christmas morning. The writer agrees, but he has a problem: How to write an unsentimental Christmas story? He unburdens himself to his friend at his local cigar shop, a colorful character named Auggie Wren. "A Christmas story? Is that all?" Auggie counters. "If you buy me lunch, my friend, I'll tell you the best Christmas story you ever heard. And I guarantee every word of it is true."And an unconventional story it is, involving a lost wallet, a blind woman, and a Christmas dinner. Everything gets turned upside down. What's stealing? What's giving? What's a lie? What's the truth? It's vintage Auster, and pure pleasure: a truly unsentimental but completely affecting tale.

Reader's Thoughts


Certainly a non-traditional Christmas story, very short in presentation, a little bit of a gem as well; no-nonsense in the telling as is Auggie Wren, a colorful character from whom the author received the story with the assurance that "every word is true." Well it might be at that, who knows?


Recuerdo la historia de Auggie Wren como epílogo de la película Cigarros, y recuerdo que fue muy, muy conmovedora. el libro no lo es menos: la navidad de Auggie, la historia de cómo adquirió su afamada cámara es una maravilla.

Ghizlane Zarrouk

This is the most nontraditional christmas story i've read so far. there is no christmas tree, no exchange of gifts no christmas shopping nothing, nada... what is interesting about this short story is that we have a fiction, another story, within the original story. so we have Paul a writer, who likes to smoke little Dutch cigars and who was asked or,to be precise,persuaded to write a short story for the New York Times to be published on christmas morning. u see Paul seems to have a problem, not concerning writing of course because he is a writer but a problem with the celebration itself. and we have Aughie, works at a cigar store, where Paul buys his little Dutch cigars, he is an artist, a photographer, he jumped and showed Paul, when he found out that Paul is a writer, his life work a set of twelve albums containing more than four thousand photographs. Paul soon realizes after going through Auggies photographs that Auggie was capturing time in his work. Auggie offered his help right after Paul told him about the problem he was facing and told him "the best christmas story", the main characters in Auggie's christmas story is the Grandmother Ethel and Auggie himself. By the end of Auggie's story we know how he started his hobby of photographing.


to quote emory griffin, "a good story is a powerful means of persuasion."very good narrative.


Not really a story... I was expecting a magical twist in the tale, but it just petered out rather disappointingly. The book looks like it is aimed at children, but I can't imagine any child whose attention or imagination would be captured by it.

Linda Lipko

I requested this from my local library last December. Finally, it arrived yesterday. This delightful, small, wonderfully illustrated book is very much a non-traditional Christmas story.It is not a story of Christmas trees, of mangers, of churches, of stained glass windows, or of snow softly falling as candles shed light in the windows.It is a story of unexpected gifts that arrive with moral dilemmas.It is very thought provoking and it was well worth the wait!


I went to the library today to watch a VHS tape of my work for a class. But when I got there, they told me that they don't let people watch their own VHS tapes, only tapes from the library. I asked why and they told me that if people could just bring in their own tapes and watch them they would never stop. Yup. Good thing the librarians are keeping a handle on things because we wouldn't want crazy people like me camping out in the library with their homework. Guess I'm supposed to go buy a TV and VCR.Anyway, no big deal about the tape, I'll find somewhere else to watch it and I had an application I wanted to fax. No fax machine at the library though. I though copiers and fax machines would be par for the course, but not so much. So I decided to get one of the books off my to-read list. But it was checked out. Oh..... Didn't want the whole trip to be a waste so I went downstairs to the fiction section and decided to wander around until I found a book.I know you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but I have never heard anything about its spine. And that is exactly what I did. I knew I didn't want anything too long (heavy to take on Muni) so when I saw this tiny red spine with perky black capital letters, I was intrigued.Turns out the book is illustrated which seemed like a sign since the book I had initially wanted was also illustrated. I really didn't like the illustrations as part Auggie Wren. The art itself (by Isol who I cna only imagine must be a well known artist to go by only one name) has a strong graphic quality and pallet that reminds me of the art in The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Stories. But the pictures, especially of the people, seem inspired by the words rather than lifelike. I found myself trying very hard not to look at them until after I finished each page. They were jarring to the very end of the story.But the writing itself was lovely. I really felt as though someone was speaking to me the entire time. The sentences are spare but evocative and the subject is entertaining. Something about the writing reminded me of Capote's stories. Anyway, this is a wonderful book that I read rather quickly and I think deserves a more leisurely read because I think I would get new layers out of it. At 36 pages (half of which are illustrations) it's a perfect read for those of you with busy lives. Let me know what you think of it.

No Books

25 dicembre 1990. Paul Auster pubblica su commissione un racconto di Natale sul New York Times: Auggie Wren’s Christmas Story. Sedotto dalla storia, il regista Wayne Wang contatta Auster e il risultato, cinque anni dopo, è il film Smoke. Il film recupera i due personaggi del racconto originale ma ne introduce di nuovi, e sostanzialmente racconta vicende diverse. Solamente alla fine, dopo i titoli di coda, in bianco e nero, il racconto di Auggie ricompare. Nel 1998, la francese Actes Sud ripubblica il racconto di Auster in un’edizione per l’infanzia, affidandolo alle illustrazioni di un talento locale, Jean Claverie. I suoi acquarelli riempiono con discrezione e savoir faire i disegni a matita, restituendoci peraltro, come l’illustratore si premura di specificare, i veri luoghi in cui si svolge la storia. Che è un piacere ritrovare, commovente, ironica e sorniona come la prima volta che l’abbiamo letta o ascoltata. La voce narrativa di Auggie (interpretato nel film da Harvey Keitel), da sola, è un piccolo capolavoro. Inoltre Auster riuscì ancora una volta, e del resto quella era forse la fase migliore della sua carriera, a tornare sui suoi temi prediletti. Un esempio? Nella storia, Auggie scatta una fotografia all’angolo tra Atlantic Av. e Clinton St. alle sette del mattino, tutti i giorni per anni. Questo a me ricorda i progetti, fotografici o meno, di Sophie Calle, artista francese che di lì ad un paio d’anni Auster avrebbe inserito nel suo capolavoro Leviathan sotto le spoglie fittizie di Maria Turner. La sovrapposizione di (auto)biografia e finzione è una costante dell’opera di Auster. Quanto c’è di vero in questo racconto? I luoghi lo sono, a quanto pare. Lo scrittore fuma davvero i Schimmelpennick, che compra alla tabaccheria Brooklyn Cigar Company. E il personaggio di Auggie Wren era ispirato al vero proprietario del locale Auggie’s Jazz Bar*. Ma in fondo questo non è importante, perché “nessuna storia è falsa finché una sola persona ci crede”... p.s.: sono l'unico a ritenere quantomeno ironico che il NY Times abbia commissionato un racconto di Natale ad uno scittore ebreo?* e relative note.

Mary Alice

This is a gem of a little story. I am so happy to have discovered it. Takes only 15 minutes to read, and the illustrations are wonderfully charming. :)

Erinna Mettler

I know it's Christmas when this catches my eye from my bookshelf. As much of a tradition in our house as It's A Wonderful Life or The Grinch. Human and heartwarming. A short story that says more than most novels.


Mi debut con Auster ha sido fantástico, aunque espero leer alguna de sus obras más largas.

Catherine Mustread

Christmas story about a lost wallet, blind woman, stolen camera and Christmas dinner.

Syringa Smyrna

** spoiler alert ** "I had become a distinguished person. Most people couldn't care less about books and writers, but it turned out that Auggie considered himself an artist, and now that he had cracked the secret of who I was, he embraced me as an ally, a confident, a brother-in-arms. To tell the truth, I found it rather embarrassing.""Once I got to know them, I began to study their postures, the way they carried themselves from one morning to the next, trying to discover their moods from these surface indications, as if I could imagine storied for them, as if I could penetrate the invisible dramas locked inside their bodies.I picked up another album. I was no longer bored, no longer puzzled as I had been at first. Auggie was photographing time, I realized, both natural time and human time, and he was doing it by planting himself in one tiny corner of the world and willing it to be his own, by standing guard in the the space he had chosen for himself.""Then, almost as if he had been reading my thoughts, he began to recite a line from Shakespeare. "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow," he muttered under his breath, "time creeps on its petty pace." I understood then that he knew exactly what he was doing.""I was about to ask him if he'd been putting me on, but then I realized he would never tell. I had been tricked into believing him, and that was the only thing that mattered. As long as there's one person to believe it, there's no story that can't be true."Auggie Wren's Christmas Story - Paul Auster

Rafael Marques

Despite the short size of the story, I found it rather amusing. The fact that it was probably the old woman's last Christmas made the story emotional. Auggie Wren's decision was admirable, even though he did not know wether the true grandson was coming or not.

Jack Silbert

This slim book and I go back about four years. I picked it up that summer at a library book sale where I was volunteering--we get a free book as our "payment." And I set the book aside with the intention of reading it on Christmas.Well, Christmas came and went and I forgot to read the book. So I had to wait for year two. And that Christmas went perfectly. As perfectly as it can go for a single Jew, anyway. On Christmas Eve, I went to the movies and afterward entered a nearby bar which I'd never been in. The mood was so friendly inside, the lighting just right. Christmas movies and football games on the TVs. I sat at a small table, ate, drank, and read Auggie Wren's Christmas Story, which had been tucked in my jacket pocket.Reading it, I experienced the magical "shock of recognition." This story was recreated in the great movie Smoke! A cigar store, a robbery, a blind old woman on Christmas. And as the movie ends, we hear the beautiful Tom Waits song, "Innocent When You Dream." It's just about perfect, and reading this book was like visiting with a dear old friend.While I sat in the bar, I got a text message out of the blue from, well, a dear old friend. Asking if I had New Year's plans. I didn't... and now I did. It was a Christmas Eve for the ages.I reviewed the book on some rival online site, and was pleased that I had a new holiday tradition. I like traditions.Except, year three, I had concert tickets on Christmas Eve. So, no movie, no bar, no Auggie.Which brings us to this year. I was worried; the bar and movie theater had both been badly damaged by Superstorm Sandy. The bar had finally reopened but we were still waiting for the theater. But on December 21, the theater did at last reopen. As it got dark, I walked up there, book again in pocket. A string of Christmas lights was on at the bar, across the way. Everything was set.As I walked out of the theater, a light snow was falling. This couldn't be more perfect. Except... now the lights were off at the bar. Where do I go now? And this snow is kind of annoying. I'll need a hat or an umbrella or something if I'm going to be walking farther. I dropped into the Rite Aid and rooted through the umbrella rack. No, no, too expensive, I have three umbrellas at home, half a mile away. No, I'm just going to get wet.I headed to the town's main drag. An awful lot of places are closed on Christmas Eve. After several blocks, I found a spot where I'd had some happy times with friends in years gone by. They were open, and the kitchen was open, and that was good enough for me. No Guinness on tap; I was having a holiday craving for a Guinness. Oh well, I'll manage.The mood was... acceptable. Not perfect, but perfection is hard to recreate. I sat at the bar, ate, drank, and read Auggie Wren's Christmas Story. And it was brilliant all over again. It's short, real short, but the illustrations make you slow down and let it all sink in. It's like a picture book for grown ups. And the light was pretty dim so i couldn't make out all the details in the illustrations. But that seemed to fit this story of an old blind woman and the gentle lies we tell each other and tell ourselves to get from one day to another.I didn't get any New Year's text messages while I read the book, but nobody expects lightning to strike twice. It was OK. The food was real good, the beer was flowing, and I was so happy to spend a little more time with Auggie Wren. I imagine I'll see him next year too.

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