Strike the Harp!
These five stories, all set on Christmas Eve, portray random acts of kindness, charity, and humanity. Whatever prompted these good deeds, they were more significant to the receiver than the giver. Almost everyone, at some time or another, finds himself in a situation in which his actions may save a life or alleviate suffering. As with the Good Samaritan, the only conscious thought is, “something must be done,” and one just does it. In 1887, a coal company’s policeman anonymously gifts the starving strikers with coal he’s purchased with his savings. At the end of World War I, an army colonel buys a Christmas Eve dinner for German orphans. In an homage to John O’Hara, an Irish ne’er-do- well’s fortunes change for the better when he rescues a baby from a burning building on Christmas Eve, 1928. A Depression-era waitress who has lost a child is gifted with a foundling on. The last, “The Lie of The Land,” is a childhood memoir of a family tragedy that took place in 1960.
Owen Parry’s writing is eloquent. He accurately depicts the coal-mining region of Pennsylvania with compassion and intelligent observation. This collection truly embodies the spirit of Christmas.