Chris Savino

Jean Shepherd

Hey all! I wanted to also use this blog to talk about some of my favorite authors. One such author is Jean Shepherd.


Many of you will know him as the writer (and adult voice of Ralphie Parker) of the annual holiday favorite: A Christmas Story. It’s where I first discovered his work. I didn’t realize until I was older that this movie was based on some of Jean Shepherd’s short stories. Even though it says so right there in the opening credits of the movie, I hadn’t noticed. But when I did, I immediately went out and found said books, and boy, from the very first paragraph I was hooked!


Jean Shepherd is a writer and satirist from the mid to later 20th century who is known for his stories and essays dealing mostly with life growing up in rural Indiana. Not only does he craft an engaging story, but he tells it in a way that is both rich and visual, and to use his words “weaves a tapestry” of details that transport the reader to a time and place now long forgotten. No one can tell a story like Jean Shepherd. Only a sheer genius can engross me in a story about something as simple as the desire to buy black gum balls over red gum balls at the local candy shop.


His books include In God We Trust (All Others Pay Cash), Wanda Hickney’s Night of Golden Memories (and Other Disasters), A Fistful of Fig Newtons, and A Ferrari in the Bedroom. Many of his stories continue the saga of Ralphie, his kid brother, and “the old man”, and if you love A Christmas Story like I do, reading these stories is like getting dozens of tiny sequels. I’ve read them all countless times. And when I’m in need of inspiration, or looking to escape the modern world of technology, harkening back to a “simpler” time, Jean Shepherd’s books are what I will pick up first.


There have been a few made-for-tv movies based on Shep’s (as he is lovingly known) stories such as, Ollie Hopnoodle’s Haven of Bliss, The Phantom of the Open Hearth, The Great American Fourth of July and Other Disasters, and The Star-crossed Romance of Josephine Cosnowski. There were other feature films as well. One called My Summer Story (also known as It Runs in the Family) and the very forgettable A Christmas Story 2, but none of the above, in my opinion, compare to the charm, relatability, warmth, and authenticity of A Christmas Story.


Also, long before Jean Shepherd put pen to paper (or finger to typewriter), he had himself a radio program where one could tune in every week and hear that familiar voice telling stories in a way that only Jean Shepherd could tell. And thanks to the magic of YouTube you can find and listen to all of his old radio programs today.


If you love a solid story told in a way that is both simple and colorful, I implore you to check out Jean Shepherd’s books (and radio broadcasts!). If you do, I promise you you’re in for a real treat.


Well, that’s all for now! Thanks for stopping by! And until next time–as Jean Shepherd would say… Excelsior!