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


An unconventional seasonal tale. Quick, fun read. Best enjoyed during the second reading. Illustrations by Isol are eclectic.

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.


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.


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


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?


As I was reading this short Christmas story by Paul Auster, I realized it was the same story that appeared in the award-winning film Smoke for which Auster wrote the screenplay. In the movie Harvey Keitel portrayed the character of Auggie Wren. I loved this story in the movie and enjoyed reading it again this holiday season. Not your typical Christmas tale but intriguing to be sure.


This is a perfect short story. Nicely packaged edition with lovely illustrations. A great gift for the Paul Auster fan in your life who has everything.

Matt Blair

Simple but touching, and beautifully illustrated. Worthy of becoming a Christmas tradition.


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


Managed to read the translation into German very quickly - though I know the story from Smoke anyway.

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.

Vicki Steevensz

Charming and quirky.


This short story was thoroughly disappointing, but the one thing it had going for it was the illustrations. Very cute pictures...


A short little story that appeared in the NYT. Curious what others think. Was it real or not? I love the idea that Auggie made an old woman happy before she died so maybe that's the only thing that matters.

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