Once, several Decembers back, it turned out I’d be spending Christmas alone. The idea didn’t bother me too much; I saw myself hunkering in with a couple of thick blankets, a box of mince pies and some new books while steadily drinking my way through a bottle of Jura Superstition. As it happened, following a drunken expedition to steal a tree late on Christmas Eve, I didn’t end up spending the day alone. But that is another story.
I feel about Paul Auster much as I do about Christmas itself: the idea of it often better than actually having to live through it. But this story, filled with chance and accident, all about tales and their telling, reminds me of that Christmas I never quite got to spending alone.
First published in The New York Times on Christmas Day, 1990, and then as a standalone title from Faber & Faber. You can listen to it read by the author here. Chosen by CD Rose