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The Hand-Carved Crèche and Other Christmas Memories

James Kilgo

Reflections on the vitality of holiday traditions from a master Southern storyteller

One of the most poignant parts of the Christmas season is the sharing of stories and traditions between the generations. In The Hand-Carved Crèche and Other Christmas Memories, acclaimed novelist and nature essayist James Kilgo offers his memories of four Christmas promises kept, including his earliest World War II–era recollections. Enhanced with woodblock print illustrations by artist Susan Nees, Kilgo's moving account reflects upon family traditions, the innocence of childhood and its loss, the unspoken love and support within a family, and above all the meaning of the nativity.

A native of Darlington, South Carolina, James Kilgo (1941–2002) was a retired professor of English at the University of Georgia, where he received five Outstanding Honors Professor Awards and the Honoratus Award for Excellence in Teaching. His books include Daughter of My People (winner of the Townsend Prize for Fiction), Inheritance of Horses, and Deep Enough for Ivorybills.

"Kilgo has a clean, direct style that is lyrical without becoming sentimental. . . . The obvious comparison is to Hemingway."—New York Times Book Review

"James Kilgo is a truth teller who continuously alters and changes his art as the truth unfolds within him its beauty. He is a great soul, and his work is part of the astonishing soul work that has been done in this region and continues. And, this maverick inside-outside Christmas piece is a fine hand carving of our strange, holy moments."—Coleman Barks



Book jacket


5 x 7
128 pages
4 illus.
ISBN 978-1-57003-935-5
paperback, $19.95t
Download an excerpt

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