Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens

This is how I imagine things went between Charles Dickens and his publisher during discussion around A Christmas Carol:

Charles Dickens: Good morning my fine man!  I hope I find you well and enjoying rude health on this fine and glorious morn!
Publisher: Um, yeah, good morning Chuck.  Have a seat.
CD: Why thank you, kind sir!  Your generosity as a host is quite enchanting and all-encompassing.  Now, before you ask – as I am sure you would, for any good host would, and you’re a magnificent host – I don’t require any sort of libation this morning: no need for tea, coffee, snuff, or anything of the stronger nature.  I found this charmingly quaint little coffee house not twenty steps from my lodgings this morning and –
P: Yeah, Chuck, this is what we need to talk about.
CD: Pardon me, good sir?  What seems to be the problem?
P: I just read your draft of A Christmas Carol, Chuck.  It’s 1,700 pages.  I thought we had talked about this – you were supposed to submit a short story that could be published over the Christmas season to boost our winter sales.
CD: But this is a short story!  I laboriously edited it down from an original page count of 2,300!  I found myself moved by the muses to describe the state of Scrooge’s home and person in a loquacious way, but I chose to limit my own pen with the judicious eye of an editor.
P: What you don’t get Chuck, is that people are busy this time of year – gooses don’t cook themselves, wassail bowls need to be refilled, to say nothing of the hours they’ve got to work to afford those geese and bowls.  We wanted something short and pithy that could be read to the family while the pudding steamed.  This is too much.
CD: I must protest!  My art is what it is, and….
P: Let’s be honest here, Chuck.  You made a fabulous deal with us when you first joined our stable of writers – we pay you by the word.
CD: … I do not consider monetary recompense when I craft my characters – do you think the Ghost of Christmas Present was influenced by any thought of worldly gain?  
P: Yes, yes I do.
CD: [Beat] Fine.  How many pages do you want?
P: Keep it under 100 and we’ll be fine.
CD: On it.

Aaaannnnddd scene…

So, how do you write a review for a story that everyone is familiar with?  You don’t – if you were raised after the beginning of the capture of images on film, you’ve seen one rendition of A Christmas Carol or another in your lifetime.  I do recommend that you read the original though – it’s decent, and less wordy than I was expecting.  But if you’re just looking to relive the story during this holiday season, I recommend you check out Scrooged or The Muppets Christmas Carol – two of the best tellings of this story out there (I think the casting of Fauzzy Bear as Fezziwinkle makes the Jim Hensen version even better than the original Dickens).

In case we don’t meet again before the holiday, I’d like to wish all my reader a wonderful Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanza/Festivus/Pagan Winter Festival/Non-Denominational Winter Holiday.  Whatever floats your boat!  Enjoy this time, find a book to dig into, and be good to one another!

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