The first time I heard Auggie Wren’s unsentimental Christmas story was in the film Smoke, around 1996, something like that. Harvey Kietel tells the whole story in a fanastic monologue at the end of the film. If you haven’t seen it, you should check it out. It’s a good movie.
I never paid much attention to the credits, but several years later I came to learn that Paul Auster had written the screenplay and that he’s a well-known writer — several of his novels have been well-received. My girlfriend reads all his stuff. Another friend of mine thinks highly of him. I still haven’t read any of his books, but today I finally got around to reading , his short story that was the inspiration for Smoke.
It is impossible for me to read this story without thinking about the movie. Sometimes that’s a bad thing. (E.g., Short Cuts, based on the short stories of .) Sometimes it’s not such a bad thing. (E.g., Field of Dreams, based on W.P. Kinsella‘s novel, Shoeless Joe.) In this case, the spirit of the film complements the original writing. I recommend them both.