You’re Innocent When You Dream

A scene from the movie SMOKEThe 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 Auggie Wren’s Christmas Story, 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 Raymond Carver.) 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.

So to recap: “Auggie Wren’s Christmas Story” (the full text), by Paul Auster. Auggie Wren’s Christmas story (the full monologue), by Harvey Kietel. Smoke, a good movie.