Thursday, December 3, 2009

December Stories and Songs, Part 3

old country pickup truck
Photo courtesy of Daisy's Little Cottage on There are many wonderful photos if you search "old pickup truck" but some had snow on I chose this one.

Today’s is a real grown-up’s story. Modern writers of literary fiction frequently set their stories at Christmastime (at least often enough to fill a number of anthologies), but precious few of them have seemed suitable to me for reading aloud. So often the stories are about dysfunctional families enduring the enforced togetherness of the holiday season. Although I don’t insist on complete sweetness and light, I do like there to be some hope of redemption at the end of any story, and especially a Christmas story. Deputy Sid’s Gift by Tim Gautreaux has that and more.

The story is told in the first person by a Louisiana man who works in a nursing home because his oilrig job disappeared. When an old “going to the dump” truck disappears from his property, his efforts to get it back involve him in the life of a black alcoholic neighbor. Deputy Sid, the local lawman (who is also black) and the narrator’s parish priest also play their parts. I like Gautreaux’s ear for language and the thoughtfulness of his characters. a very southern I found the story in A Very Southern Christmas, an anthology of tales by Southern writers; you can also get it in Gautreaux’s collection of short stories, Same Place, Same Things. The story was first published in Harper’s Magazine in November 1995, and if you are a subscriber you can read it here; or perhaps you can find it in your local library,

For a story taking place in Cajun country, there are a number of different songs with similar titles: “Christmas on the Bayou” or variations on that theme. I chose the one by Beausoleil from the excellent CD Alligator Stomp, Volume 4: Cajun Christmas.alligator stomp cajun

And lo! here it is on YouTube:

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