The Christmas Plains
By Joseph Bottum
(Image, Hardcover, 9780770437657, 224pp.)
Publication Date: October 23, 2012
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A well-respected writer and editor's memoir of childhood Christmases set in the sometimes harsh but always captivating landscape of South Dakota.
Wreaths and holly, fruitcakes and mistletoe, ornaments and snowflakes, St. Nick and Scrooge's humbug, Joseph and Mary, a young child in a manger and magi from the East. These words automatically stir up the season of Christmas and invoke memories of family and friends and hope and faith. By turns sweet and comic, sentimental and serious, the former editor of First Things magazine shares his reflections of the mad joys and wild emotions of the season while growing up on the South Dakota plains.
JOSEPH BOTTUM is one of the nation’s most widely published essayists and poets, with work appearing in magazines and newspapers from the Atlantic to the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and National Review. A bestselling eBook author, Bottum is the former editor in chief of the journal First Things and former literary editor of the Weekly Standard, where he remains a contributing editor and regular writer. He holds a Ph.D. in philosophy, lectures widely on literary and religious topics, and lives with his family far off in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
"Joseph Bottum is one of America’s most gifted writers, with a perfect ear and a matchless style, and to watch him deck the halls with his customary humor and generosity of spirit is glad tidings indeed—guaranteed to make your Yuletide bright." —Andrew Ferguson, senior editor, The Weekly Standard and author of Land of Lincoln
"Calling Joseph Bottum’s The Christmas Plains a classic wouldn’t do it justice. This is simply a superb piece of writing—elegant, evocative, funny and absolutely memorable. Anyone who loves Christmas—and who with a young heart doesn’t?—needs to read, and reread, and share this wonderfully vivid collection of Christmas memories."
—Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, author of A Heart on Fire and Render Unto Caesar
"Evocative, insightful, and above all, beautifully written."
—George Weigel, author of the bestselling Witness to Hope and Tranquillitas Ordinis: The Present Failure and Future Promise of American Catholic Thought on War and Peace
"If you haven’t read Joseph Bottum on Christmas—on any subject, for that matter—The Christmas Plains will be a wonderful discovery. If you have, you already know the pleasure you’ll get from his stories. Christmas brings tidings of joy, he writes, but not always comfort 'in the modern sense' of ease and relaxation. Joy is an activity—'something we do,' Jody writes—but comfort is 'an aspiration that can never be fulfilled short of the grave.' Thanks to The Christmas Plains, I’ll keep this distinction in mind when the frenzy of the Christmas season arrives."
—Fred Barnes, executive editor, The Weekly Standard
"In The Christmas Plains, Joseph Bottum draws on the memorable characters and haunting landscapes of his South Dakota youth to weave a richly textured reflection on the meaning of Christmas. Using his considerable talents as a storyteller and spiritual writer, Bottum affirms a truth as old as the Christmas story itself: God’s grace can reach us through surprising means – including the follies, disappointments, and delights of the Christmas season."
—Colleen Carroll Campbell, author of My Sisters the Saints
"Christmas, unwrapped and lifted high, in all its giddy, glistening glory."
—Nancy Tillman, author of the bestselling On the Night you were Born and The Crown on Your Head