Where there's smoke
As the narrator in Paul Auster's <B>Auggie Wren's Christmas Story</B> remarks, "How could anyone propose to write an unsentimental Christmas story?" Auster though, does manage it and this slip of a book is by far one of the best offerings this holiday season. First appearing on the New York Times Op-Ed page on Christmas Day, 1990, and then five years later as the feature film <B>Smoke</B>, this unusual Christmas tale has now been given rich illustrations by the Argentine illustrator ISOL. No matter the form, the story is still as engaging and satisfying as ever. Auggie Wren is an odd little man who works in a cigar store and takes thousands of pictures of the same street corner at precisely the same time every morning. The mystery of Auggie's identity and the Christmas he spends in the company of a blind woman reads at first like a riddle, but as the narrator soon realizes, "If you don't take the time to look, you'll never manage to see anything." Far from sentimental, <B>Auggie Wren's Christmas Story</B> is a smart, slightly offbeat holiday tale that should be at the top of any gift list.