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In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash

3.92  ·  Rating Details ·  2,495 Ratings  ·  330 Reviews
A beloved, bestselling classic of humorous and nostalgic Americana, reissued in a strikingly designed paperback edition.

Before Garrison Keillor and Spalding Gray there was Jean Shepherd: a master monologist and writer who spun the materials of his all-American childhood into immensely resonant--and utterly hilarious--works of comic art. In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash
Paperback, 272 pages
Published April 28th 1991 by Broadway Books (first published 1966)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Nov 29, 2009 Tressa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: humor, essays
"In the heat of battle my father wove a tapestry of obscenities that as far as we know is still hanging in space over Lake Michigan."

I can't remember if I ran out and bought In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash after seeing A Christmas Story on cable back in '83, or if I bought it before the movie just because the title caught my eye at some used bookstore, but it’s been a prized possession for decades. If you're like me and thousands of others who love this movie, you'll enjoy this book. The bo
Brian Hodges
Jun 11, 2008 Brian Hodges rated it liked it
Shelves: stories, humor
Yes, this is the book that "A Christmas Story" was based on. But don't read it expecting it to have the same innocently charming humor as the movie. Don't get me wrong, this book is quite humorous, but it is told in a much more wry and sarcastic manor than the movie. In fact, the stories that made it into the Christmas Story narrative aren't even the funniest ones. The best story as far as I'm concerned is the one about a drunk neighbor who tries to set up a fireworks display on the fourth of Ju ...more
Dec 01, 2014 Randee rated it liked it
This book surprised me in that it wasn't what I was expecting it to be. I thought it would be a book of humorous essays. In fact, I was thinking in the beginning that Jean Shepherd must have been the David Sedaris of his day. There are funny stories to be sure. "A Christmas Story" the movie that runs 24/7 during December is based on only two chapters in this book. But, there are also stories that aren't humorous and are not meant to be humorous. Mr. Shepherd's look back on his youth growing up i ...more
Erik Graff
Feb 23, 2009 Erik Graff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Thurber fans
Recommended to Erik by: Einar Graff
Shelves: literature
My dad was a nineteen-fifties father. He was rushing off to work when we got up the morning, would come home for dinner, then settle into his chair with a pipe, a book or the papers, feet up, to listen to classical music until he went to bed. Mom did the day-to-day; she was the peace-keeping force in the house, he the ultimate weapon, occasionally referred to, but never employed. A flip of the top of his paper, a look would send us scurrying. In town his presence was more in his things--his work ...more
Guy Austin
Jun 17, 2016 Guy Austin rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, 1966, bingo
A Guy walks into a bar…

Basically this is a story, rather stories, a man tells while visiting his boyhood home. He drops in to see his friend who owns the local bar. Together they wax reminiscent about the good old days over beer and Boilermakers. Their interactions are really just interludes introducing a memory of yesteryears.

Jean Shepard is best known for his screen play and narration in the 80’s Holiday Classic “A Christmas Story” so when reading this novel it is easy to hear the voice of t
Jan 11, 2017 Jessica rated it really liked it
After watching "A Christmas Story" for the millionth time during the holidays I was craving more of Jean Shepherd's humor. I was familiar with his radio show but was pleased that there was a book version of many of his stories. This is a funny and entertaining read and you can see his influence on modern humorists' storytelling. It reminded me a lot of Bill Bryson's recollections of growing up in suburbia (a few decades later). The stories area loosely connected by meeting up with an old pal at ...more
Anna H
Dec 15, 2016 Anna H rated it it was amazing
Heartwarming and funny, "In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash" is a novel of interrelated vignettes containing the short stories that eventually became the classic holiday movie, "A Christmas Story." In the book, Jean Shepherd tells the sometimes heartbreaking and dark, but tongue-in-cheek, laugh-out-loud stories of growing up in a Northern Indiana mill town during the Great Depression.
Whether he's describing visits of the personal tax assessor, raffles at a movie theater, or anticipating Chris
Kevin Topolovec
Dec 30, 2016 Kevin Topolovec rated it liked it
The book that inspired A Christmas Story. I read the whole book in the movie narrator's voice.
♡´°~♡ Unsolved Mystery ♡~°´♡
Sep 07, 2010 ♡´°~♡ Unsolved Mystery ♡~°´♡ rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who has seen the movie

- My Description -
This is an insight into the life of a young boy.
The book has a bundle of short stories, including Ralphie Parker's pursuit of the Red Ryder 200 shot carbine-action air rifle.

Adult Ralphie goes back to his hometown, as he recounts his memories. The author switches back and forth, with adult Ralphie talking over old times with his friend Flick.

- My Review -
I love the movie, "A Christmas Story" which was based on this book.

While the book was a bit wordy, it was a fun read.

The e
Feb 14, 2017 Sarah rated it did not like it
Shelves: book-club-1
I generally subscribe to the mantra "the book is always better," when comparing books to movies made or inspired from the material so it's always interesting when I find a case where it's decidedly not. There were many times where I told myself to just allow this to go the way of the DNF pile but I really try and stick them out if they are for book club and less than 300 pages. I am sad to say I was not rewarded for my efforts. There are some books that just don't stand the test of time and this ...more
Christopher Litsinger
Dec 12, 2010 Christopher Litsinger rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-in-2010
I picked this up as a holiday read (it's largely known as "the book that the move A Christmas Story is based on"). I have memories of loving these stories when my middle school teacher would read them, but in retrospect I think I just remember him loving the stories. Next time I'll just watch the movie.
This is really a collection of short stories held together by a sort of lame and annoying narrative contrivance. On top of that, each of the stories themselves begins with a "Remembrance of Things
Melissa McShane
It's hard not to hear Jean Shepherd's voice as you read this book, especially if you know him best as the narrator of the movie A Christmas Story. The movie was adapted from sections of this book, sometimes verbatim, though some parts of the movie came from stories that didn't happen at Christmastime. Shepherd is one of the modern masters of hyperbole, building his tales on great towering word structures until it's hard to know what's real and what's imaginary. (Since this is a fictionalized nar ...more
Greg Kerestan
May 10, 2016 Greg Kerestan rated it liked it
Make no mistake, Jean Shepherd is a fantastic humorist and essayist. This collection is entertaining and definitely well-written. It's unfortunate, however, that Shepherd's masterwork, "A Christmas Story," has rendered almost everything else he ever did a footnote. Doesn't matter how funny or how clever his other stories are- you'll always be comparing them to the brilliant writer and raconteur's turn as narrator and author of the most beloved holiday slice-of-life comedy ever made.
Dec 23, 2011 James rated it really liked it
Jean Shepherd's semi-autobiographical collection of short stories is full of wit. That's the one word I'd use to describe the book: wit. What makes the book witty is his word selection and storytelling prowess. He weaves a tapestry (to quote himself right from the book) of words to form vivid imagery, thought, and analogy.

What humorist Shepherd does brilliantly is being a fantastic storyteller. Being a fan of Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion" (thanks to my father), I was intrigued in
Jan 06, 2017 Mary rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
Each Christmas I re-read A Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd. It is a collection of short stories on which the movie is based. I recently decided to purchase the author's three full collections of short stories.

In God We Trust (All Others Pay Cash) is the first of those three. (Eleven of the fifteen stories were new to me.) Shepherd had an interesting way of pulling everything together. He starts in Chapter 1 by going back to his hometown as a middle-aged adult. In a local bar, he finds Flick, h
Dec 19, 2007 Tracey rated it liked it
Shelves: libraryread
I had been introduced to Jean Shepherd's writings via my mom and the local library sometime in the mid-80's - both he and Patrick McManus became favorite read-alouds while camping, or at the family cottage, where the TV reception was sketchy at best.

Ralph (a semi-autobiographical Shepherd and big New York writer-hepcat) goes back to Hohman, Indiana to write about his childhood. He meets up with a childhood friend - now a bartender - and they swap stories. Ralph tells the majority of the stories
This collection of short stories is what the movie "A Christmas Story" is based upon. I've wanted to read this for a few years now. The thing is the price of the book I thought was too high, so I waited. I waited and waited. The price never came down. I ran out of EVERYTHING else even on my maybe to read list. I purchased this in October in order to be ready for Christmas. I began reading it and was turned off immediately. I put it down and looked for something else to read. Interestingly, I hav ...more
May 16, 2013 spoko rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
I actually started reading this just before Christmas, but kept putting it down to read/finish other things. In case you're not at all familiar with it, this is the book that the movie The Christmas Story is based on. My advice: If you like that movie, avoid this book. If you don't like that movie, forget this book exists.

The cover blurb says that Shepherd bridges the gap between James Thurber and David Sedaris. But he's neither as concise as Thurber nor as interesting as Sedaris. Neither is he
Apr 06, 2013 Aaron rated it really liked it
Fans of the newer Christmas Classic "A Christmas Story," will definitely enjoy reading this one. It is actually the work upon which the movie was based. Originally published as a series of essays in "Playboy" between 1964 and 1966, Shepherd has pooled them together into a single volume, connecting the essays and short stories with little vignettes that have Ralphie returning home from New York on business and running into his friend Flick, who is now a bartender in a local pub.

Fans of the movie
Jan 11, 2009 Giedra rated it liked it
Several chapters of this book form the basis of the 1984 movie, "The Christmas Story." Appparently the author had a hand in putting the screenplay together (which also borrowed from a few other stories) and was also the narrator of the movie, so it was fun to read the book and to hear the voice of the author "reading" it in my head.

I also enjoyed reading the stories that are NOT included in the movie. (My husband told me there was a follow-up to the Christmas Story movie that had the same charac
Keith Schnell
Nov 30, 2014 Keith Schnell rated it it was amazing
Before Lewis Black, before Bill Bryson, before even Garrison Keillor, there was Jean Shepherd. Most known today, if he is remembered at all, for his work in writing and narrating the Christmastime TV marathon favorite “A Christmas Story,” Shepherd had a late-night talk-radio show in Northern New Jersey for over 25 years, filing up 45-minute blocks with his own unique mixture of nostalgic stories, thoughtful observations on current events and general wisecrackery. Like A Christmas Story, In God W ...more
Dec 28, 2012 Jack rated it it was amazing
The movie "A Christmas Story" was based on the stories in this book. The movie glommed most of the stories into a single event.

Basically this is a homecoming story about a New Yorker returning to his gritty, steel mill hometown in Indiana where he meets up with his childhood friend, Flick, now a bar tender. The two reminisce about growing up.

Good stories. I liked the last one about the Gravy Boat. All were funny and thought provoking about my own childhood in the 60's and 70's in my own hometow
Gina (Weena)
Nov 27, 2008 Gina (Weena) rated it really liked it
This was a fun, light, read. There were only a few stories that had actually been featured in the movie, A Christmas Story, however. Yes, there is the famous "you'll shoot your eye out" scene. Shepherd's writing definitely takes the reader back in time to a small Indiana town in the 1930s and 40s. Each childhood tale is filled with humorous nostalgia. I still like the movie better, though, as it has long become a yearly tradition in my family.
Terry Cornell
Feb 19, 2014 Terry Cornell rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, fiction
One of my favorites! Many of the stories from the book were incorporated in the movie Christmas Story. Written with the same humor and nostalgia, while filling in some of the details. Highly recommended,
Feb 12, 2017 Jenni rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
Enjoyed this but didn't find it as humorous as I thought I would, having seen the movie. Did enjoy the nostalgia - kids running free, fireworks! - some of which brought up good memories of my childhood.
Tim Evanson
Nov 03, 2013 Tim Evanson rated it liked it
Hilarious? No. Humorous? Yes.

This book is a collection of 15 short stories by the American humorist Jean Shepherd. Shepherd had a radio career beginning in 1945, and many of his on-air stories concerned his childhood in Hammond, Indiana, and his life in the U.S. Army during World War II. Shepherd was quite well known nationally, and many of America's leading humor authors knew him well. In the 1950s, Shel Silverstein began pushing Shepherd to write his stories down, and he began to do so in 1963
Jan 04, 2008 Chris rated it liked it
Having been a loyal advocate of A Christmas Story all my life, I was relatively shocked about two years ago when I came across the discovery at the end of the film that it was based on the stories of Jean Shepherd. Naturally, the first thing that came to mind was that I had absolutely no clue who the hell Jean Shepherd was. One day I asked the badass and courteous Old Timer at Books-A-Million (my new one-stop shop for all my published needs) and he rhapsodized about the mythical figure known fon ...more
Jun 11, 2017 Clint rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A delight to read. I enjoyed not only the segments that helped contribute to the movie "A Christmas Story", but the rest was funny too. Jean Shepherd has a great sense of humor, sarcastic and self-deprecating at the same time. I look forward to reading more by him. Recommended!
Oct 13, 2013 Rhonda rated it it was amazing
I do not bother adding all the books I have read to my lists unless I have the idea that sooner or later I will write a review of them. As it turns out, this one is long overdue. Not only is Jean Shepherd a superlative writer, but despite the great differences in our generations, his stories illuminated my early childhood in ways in which I could not have conceived, somewhat like using a flashlight to look in the corners of a darkened room. I had forgotten that most of those memories were there. ...more
Howling with laughter, I read the chapter where Ralph find a smut book that his mother is reading, called Decameron, and proceeds to write a book report being sure to include cuckolds because he knows how his teacher likes birds. If you don't know the book that's ok, the book does a great job illustrating what it is with out being crass.

That's just one of the extremely enjoyable moments, Jean Shepard writes about in "In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash". An extremely funny book about growing u
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Was an American raconteur, radio and TV personality, writer and actor who was often referred to by the nickname Shep. With a career that spanned decades, Shepherd is best known to modern audiences for the film A Christmas Story (1983), which he narrated and co-scripted, based on his own semi-autobiographical stories.
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“Preparing to go to school was like getting ready for extended deep sea diving.” 6 likes
“There are fewer things more thrilling in life than lumpy letters. That rattle.” 4 likes
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