In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash
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In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  1,611 ratings  ·  246 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...more
Paperback, 264 pages
Published May 28th 1991 by Broadway Books (first published 1966)
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Tressa
"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...more
Brian Hodges
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
Erik Graff
Feb 23, 2009 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
Melissa Proffitt
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
Christopher Litsinger
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...more
David
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...more
Aaron
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...more
spoko
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...more
Giedra
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...more
Jack
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...more
Blues
As a youth in NYC I grew up listening to the stories of Jean Shepherd on WOR radio. Since his show was on around the time I'd have to hit the sack, I'd smuggle my transistor radio under my pillow and listen to and commit to memory most of his stories of growing up during the Depression.

When it was announced that he was going to hold a book signing (along with hot dogs and refreshments) at the Limelight Cafe at Sheridan Square in Greenwich Village, I made haste to jump on the subway from Queens a...more
Weena
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
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,
Christopher
Let's get this out of the way: Shepherd's writing style is, like my use of the word "overwrought," overwrought. He writes as if he's discovered a veritable treasure trove of adjectives, adverbs, parentheticals, and subordinate clauses, and he's not afraid to use them. Sometimes it adds a fun flavor and a more enjoyable mental image, and sometimes it can't end soon enough. If you're okay with that kind of writing, then continue reading. If not, stop here.

The classic Christmas movie, "A Christmas...more
Carrie Rzeppa
After visiting the sight in Cleveland where the movie "The Christmas Story" was filmed, I really wanted to read the book that inspired one of our favorite family Christmas movies. The book didn't disappoint. Ralph, who now lives and works in New York City, returns to Hohman, Indiana to write about his hometown. He meets up with his old buddy Flick (yes, the same one)- now an owner and bartender of a local tavern- and reminisces about his favorite Depression-era memories of his childhood. I'm too...more
Mike Wood
A Christmas Story is one of my favorite movies of all time, and not just in the holiday category, so I'm surprised it took me so long to get around to reading the source material. But, after doing so, I can't say I feel like I missed much. In small doses, the narrative style is wonderful, but over the course of a book, it starts to get repetitive and even a little irritating. I was also put off by the bar interludes - they felt really forced and unnecessary. Maybe this is the rare case of the mo...more
Rhonda
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
Barbara
Reading this book (as well as Wanda Hickey's Night of Golden Memories and watching the DVD of The Christmas Story) makes me laugh until I cry and brings back memories common to someone who was actually born and raised in the city that Shepherd described in his books.

Oh yeah, he called it Homan in The Christmas Story, but anyone who grew up in "duh Region" (northwestern Indiana/south Chicago) in the 40s / 50s KNOWS that he was describing his childhood in Hammond Indiana. He attended the same hig...more
Nicki
Shepherd captures childhood obsessions and musings beautifully. In the book, Ralph returns to his hometown as an adult and recounts memories with his childhood friend, Flick. This book not only opens a window to a period in history, but it also speaks somewhat universally to the experience of childhood. His descriptions are vivid and engrossing, full of heart and imagination.

Though I will have to be honest and admit that those long, meandering descriptions were sometimes tedious - but I would u...more
Michael
For those of you who don't know, the film "A Christmas Story" is based on parts of this book. The story arch follows Ralph as an older man, returning to his home town from where he works in New York. He works at a magazine and is writing a piece about Midwestern towns. He finds his way into a bar where Flick, his childhood pal, is the bartender. He and flick reminisce on their childhood together and we get various stories from a Depression-era Indiana childhood. The story about the bb gun is the...more
Kevin
another solid work from Mr. Sheperd. it was great to see where all the stories from the movie A Christmas Story came from and even more impressive to see how they wove them together into the masterpiece of the movie. very well done.

back to the book- Ralphie visiting his home town after living in New York successfully (he nonchalantly says that he has a Rollex) and stopping by Flick's bar to reminisce was the glue that held the stories together in this one. A great premise and one that worked.

I a...more
Paul
Dec 13, 2012 Paul rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
Anyone who's seen A Christmas Story will have some interest in reading this—indeed it's why I picked it up. I hate to say it, but, yep, the movie is better. This is definitely material better suited for radio monologue or film—it just doesn't really work as printed word. Or, not to say it doesn't work, but it certainly didn't work that well for me. Where to begin. First off, the organizational/structural conceit of Ralph traveling back home to Hohman, IN from big-and-fast New York and sitting in...more
Jason
It's nearly impossible to evaluate this book on its own merits, after watching A Christmas Story countless times over the years.

It was definitely fascinating to compare the two. I was most surprised by the fact that the book felt like it had a bit of a different voice than the movie, despite the movie containing a huge number of quotes word for word, and Jean Shepherd narrating the movie himself!

Part of that was certainly the extra material in the book, including the framework of Ralphie as an a...more
Jileen
Have you ever read a book that makes you feel like you just don't get it? Like someone is telling a joke and everyone around you gets it except you? I'm not sure if it was how the author arranged his words or just that it was a grown man in the 1960's talking about his childhood in the 1930's. I have to admit I had to google a lot of words, like Automat (I had no idea this restaurant idea was around in big cities!!) and "The Decameron of Boccaccio". I was also confused and felt like I couldn't g...more
Unsolved Mystery
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Chris
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
Michael Morris
A Christmas Story is probably my favorite holiday movie, so it is with some trepidation that I finally got myself to start Jean Shepherd's book, on which much of the film is based. I try to keep away from comparisons of books and movies. They are different art forms, and so should be judged separately. And since only about three and a half chapters from this book are actually in the movie, that distinction seems even more important.

But I cannot help but make a couple of notes. For me, the movie...more
B
Sep 28, 2013 B rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: own, westend
"This is the book that 'The Christmas Story' is based on."

Both the content of this book and the reading of this book focus the mind on one thing: the inability for people to escape from the furrows in which they grew.

The narrator strings together a series of short stories from "Ralphie"'s childhood, several of which are stitched together to from the core of The Christmas Story. On one hand, the movie is much, much better. Disparate elements and substories are woven together in a way that makes...more
Luann
Add this to the short list of books whose movie adaptation is better than the book. And in this case, MUCH better. There is a lot here that wasn't used in "A Christmas Story," and some of it is really good. A second movie could have been made with Ralphie and friends - maybe a summer movie with emphasis on the Fourth of July and fireworks. I would like to see that movie - although I'm sure it wouldn't be as good as the original. I'm giving this 3 stars, but it's really closer to 2.5 for me. Ther...more
Frank
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...more
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