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Before the Title, Past
A Nonfiction Column
By Willie Elliott


Highly Unrealistic Totally Delightful

In one of my travels to the used-book world, I spotted a Reader Digest condensed version (large print) of Fannie Flagg's A Redbird Christmas. Normally, I do not like the condensed version, but since I am a big fan of Flagg and I didn't even know of that book, I picked it up. Even in a condensed version, it was a delight to read. It was kind of nice to read the large print version—the pages just went flying by.

It is one of those books that we each should read from time to time—a book that tells it like it should be rather than the way it is. When Oswald Campbell decide to go to Lost River Alabama, everything in his life and those around him in his new community seems to go nowhere but uphill.

Obviously, Murphy's Law does not exist in Lost River because the opposite seems to be true: if anything can go right it does in Lost River. And the book proves that a book does not have to have sex, violence or irony to be successful. People who come to Lost River seem to remember a lost talent that comes to fruition again.

Near the end of the book, I knew things were going to turn out just fine so I had an urge to head for Lost River myself and experience that peaceful life that Oswald luckily bumped into. Then it occurred to me that we all have our Lost Rivers if we will just search it out. Well, maybe not that idyllic but we can make our communities better places if we work at it.

I won't spoil the story for you, but, yes, there were problems in and around Lost River but they were either solved or left the area, and as for origin of the title—I leave that little symbolic scene for your enjoyment.

It is one of those books that pull at your heart. At the end of Where the Red Fern Grows surely you cried, but with A Redbird Christmas—your tears are replaced with gladness as yet another miracle takes place. One version has the story plus several pages of recipes and as one reader commented, “You won't find recipes in Les Miserables.

I see suggestions that the story will be made into a Christmas movie, and some have suggested that the book is connected to Flagg's other delightful novel Fried Green Tomatoes. If it should be made into a Christmas story, I will be on the front row of a cinema to relive the story again, and I l hope you find your Rocky River soon.

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