Friday, November 5, 2021. Sunny/partly sunny, turning colder yesterday in New York.
People are getting out more, and gladly. This past Wednesday night, our friend Paige Peterson gave a book party at her Central Park West apartment overlooking the Park, and got a big response. The book — you’ve heard of it, although maybe not this version — is Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. But this is the version that has been adapted by Jesse Kornbluth, specifically to share the experience of the story with very young children first learning to read. It’s paperback although a larger size for small children to see, to look at and see the illustrations by Wednesday night’s hostess, Paige. It’s a keeper for the children in your life.
I remember the black and white film when I was a kid. Released in 1951, the experience remains in memory all these years later. It is a compelling story for all of us. And one to be read aloud. In fact Charles Dickens often did readings, ticket-selling readings of his works and A Christmas Carol was originally put together to be read. And helped with the rent. That led to more stories and the book.
Jesse Kornbluth remembered a reading given by the headmaster of his prep school introducing the upcoming holiday season. It had a profound effect on the young man who became a writer. Because of that, decades later, he sat down to read it to his young daughter. Much to his surprise, she quickly lost interest and was on her way out the door. Jesse realized that the younger generation didn’t have the patience for the Victorian verbosity. But he knew the story worked.
That experience provided the birth of this version of Charles Dickens’ immortal story. Jesse cut it in half in length – from 27,000 words to 13,000, an editor’s version of cutting to the chase. He did a little bit of updating of the (use and meaning of the 19th century) language. Presto, he’s taken Mr. Dickens’ creation into the 21st century. This book is the youngest readers first venture into Dickens, and it’s compelling. It’s also a good (to be read) read.
The book can be purchased at Book Passage by clicking here.
Meanwhile, Wednesday night’s party was a “sold out” affair. Paige is one of those New York women who, as they say, “knows everybody.” She’s got a spacious apartment full of her art and a chance to be around friends and friends of friends. Among those partaking were Eric Alterman, Jennifer Erwitt, Rick Smolan, Gigi and Harry Benson, Joe, Vivienne and Kelsy Ford, Nancy Collins, Louis Nelson, Judy Collins, Richard Conway, Greta Weill, Jane Friedman, Heidi Paige Geist, Joe Geist, Duane Hampton, Sharon King Hoge, Joan Jakobson, Peter Cary Peterson, Emily Cerone, Tina Keane, Eleanora Kennedy, Jesse, of course; Anki Leeds, Liza Lerner, Owen Lewis, Debbie Loeffler, John Loeffler, Joanie McDonnell, Liz McNeil, Judith Miller, Susan Calhoun Moss, Sam Moss, Mary Moss, Priscilla Rattazzi, Mary Stengel, Charlie Thompson, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Peter Brown, Carl Richey, Elizabeth Peabody, Alexander Gesswein, Shirley Chiang Romig, Joelle Kairouz, Farideh Gesswein, and lots more just like ‘em.