Wednesday, October 15, 2008

THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS


Time to say a few words about my new book, The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits. The publication date is November 4, which hopefully gives everyone plenty of time to pick up copies for every reader on your holiday list. The title pretty much says it all, but I should add that much of what is in this book came as a real surprise to me--yet one more instance of how all this recent work in history has been making up for those days I dozed through class in high school and college. I had always assumed that Charles Dickens had it pretty easy once he became established as the best-selling author of his time, but that is not the case. By 1843, he was broke, his critical reputation was shot, and his once-fabled popularity was at an all time low. By chance, he came up with a story that he believed would turn his fortunes around. But the fact is that A Christmas Carol, the most popular Christmas story of all time, very nearly did not happen. When he went excitedly to his publishers to pitch his story, Messrs Chapman and Hall listened patiently, then suggested he lie down until the urge to tell "a ghost story of Christmas" had passed. Angry but undeterred, Dickens resolved to publish the tale himself, even though he had only six weeks to finish writing it, have it designed, illustrated and printed, and copies delivered to the shelves. But he managed, and the story of how this self-published book became at one time second only to the Bible in readership gripped me like Jacob Marley fastening on Scrooge. There is much in here about how this book came to shape Christmas as we know it today; but it is also very much about writing, and the publishing industry, and personal courange and conviction...I hope you will enjoy reading the book as much as I enjoyed writing it. Do let me know.
I will close with a final word on the fabulous job that the good folks at Crown have done with the design of my own "little book." The cover is obviously pretty cool, but wait until you have a look at the book itself: the layout, the colored ink, the uncut pages...forget the words inside, this would make a great gift as a holiday decoration! Kudos to my editors Rachel Klayman and Lucinda Bartley and everyone else inside Crown Publishers for all the hard work and care.

48 comments:

Michael said...

Hey Les-

I'm a Random House sales rep, one who had the good fortune to read THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS. I absolutely love it and have made sure that all of my booksellers are well stocked. I've actually been doing staff and consumer presentations on good gifts for the holidays and your book is always at the top of the "Nice" list!

I've also got a little side project that I share with another Random House colleague, thought it's not officially affiliated with Random House: www.booksonthenightstand.com. It's a blog and podcast. In episode 17 of the podcast (available on the site or from iTunes) we announced our "12 Days of Gifts" program and gave a sneak peek at 2 titles that would be part of it. My title was your book. Today's blog post is the penultimate entry in the 12 Days and it features your book once again. Please come on over to the site and check them out!

One last thing. You're doing a reading at one of my stores, Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley, MA. It's a fantastic store and they'll take good care of you. Sadly, I will be in RI, doing a consumer presentation (featuring your book of course!), so I won't be able to attend. I've sent them my copy of the book and I'd love it if you would sign it to me!

Thanks for writing such a great book and good luck with the sales over the next month!

best,
Michael Kindness

usedbuyer said...

Thank you, Sir, for your book, and for your notice of my blog about it for the University Book Store, Seattle. Your book is prominently displayed on the Christmas table we put up yesterday, and more importantly to the author I should think, I've had good fortune hand-selling it (as we say in the trade) to other Dickens fans and Christmas fanatics.

Hope your Holidays will be as joyful as your latest book.

Again, thanks.

Brad Craft (usedbuyer) Seattle

Patrick O said...

Les,

I just finished reading "The Man who Invented Christmas" and ejoyed it immensely. I received the book as a present from my wife after I made a point of telling her about the review I read in the paper recently. Of course, as I knew it would the book was there for me under the Christmas tree on the appointed morning.

I retired this past year and now have as much time as I want to indulge in my favorite pastime of reading. I made a point of reading your book first and hardly put it down until I finished it.

The book was enjoyable and fascinating and I learned much about Charles Dickens that I didn't know, and I have been a major fan of his work since high school.

I'm a particular fan of "Scrooge" / "A Christmas Carol and make a point of watching as many of of the DVD's I have and reading the versions of the story I have, as well, every Christmas. I introduced my children and the elementary school students I taught to the story with the simplified versions.

I'm going to make a point of sending e-mails about your book to friends and family member I know who will appreciate it.

Well done,

Patrick O - Anaheim, CA

Alan said...

I very much enjoyed you book. It was a fascinating bit of "undigested history".

I was intrigued about the follow Christmas books that Dickens wrote.

The "Chimes" was interesting and I recognized several points in it that were echoed in the old movie "Its a Wonderful Life". Bells, regretful over life, a vision of an alternate reality, a suicide by drowning, and a visiting magical creature.

john paulits said...

I'm halfway through TMWIC and was bowled over to find that you botched the plot of A Christmas Carol. On page 92 you
write, "...Ebenezer Scrooge, makes his way home through the fogbound and bustling Christmas Eve, pausing only when he is approached by a do-gooder seeking donations for the poor:..."Are there no prisons?..." This does not occur when Scrooge is walking home. It occurs in his office when Fred, his nephew, leaves. "(Crachit), in letting Scrooge's nephew out, had let two other people in." These are the do-gooders seeking a donation. Hard to figure how your editors let that get through. You need a sterner fact-checker. But best of luck with the book, nonetheless. John Paulits

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