This morning I finished the ebook of Elizabeth Hand's novella, Chip Crockett's Christmas Carol. I love Open Road Media for reprinting as ebooks, wonderful stories that have enduring value but did not become household names. This exquisite story of a man, his autistic son, and his childhood friend, a has-been rockstar is incredibly powerful and is something I'm going to try to reread every year. Like Dickens' A Christmas Carol, it has universal themes and evokes deep and lasting feelings in the reader. Brendan, a middle aged, not successful but not a failure attorney has a definite Scrooge-like attitude towards Christmas. It was Christmas when he and his now ex-wife realized that something was really wrong with their two-year-old son Peter. Tony Kemper, the once famous punk rocker, Tony Moroni, who lost control of his band's rights to their music is broke, unemployed and homeless so he moves in with Brendan who has Peter on Tuesdays and every other weekend. Four-year-old Peter doesn't talk and for the most part doesn't interact with anyone. Tony becomes obsessed with Chip Crockett, the host of a kiddie tv show they watched in their childhood and spends hours on a fan web page even though only a few seconds of recordings of Chip Crockett on tv have survived. He finds rumors of a Chip Crockett Christmas special that may have somehow survived.
This has tiny bits of fantastical elements giving a little of the feel I got from Connie Willis's Bellwether with both set in our very real world. I loved how Brendan, Tony, and Peter, all flawed and damaged still are lovable, strong in their own ways, and memorable. Best of all this is a book that is not sentimental or sweet but definitely leaves the reader feeling good at the end and wanting to revisit again and again.