Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Christmas Sweater

Richard Paul Evans, author of the runaway bestseller The Christmas Box calls Glenn Beck's The Christmas Sweater the kind of story that "will keep you warm even after you've closed the book." Comparing Beck's story to Mitch Albom's The Five People You Meet In Heaven, Evans says "this is the sort of gift you treasure long after the holiday has passed."
Well, a lot of people are treasuring The Christmas Sweater this holiday season. The book has only been on the New York Times bestseller list for four weeks and it's already number two on the list, topped only by Patricia Cornwell's Scarpetta.
Beck of course is also a wildly successful talk radio host whose program airs locally in Philadelphia on The Big Talker, 1210 AM which is also the home of our friend Dom Giordano and the great Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. And Glenn Beck's TV show will debut on Fox News on January 19.
Beck calls what he does "the fusion of entertainment and enlightenment."
And everything he touches seems to turn to gold.
Last night we were part of the sellout audience at The Kimmel Center's Verizon Hall in Philadelphia for Glenn Beck's live performance of The Christmas Sweater.
What can I compare it to?
Well, Beck seems to borrow heavily from the late radio host Jean Shepherd who was the co-author and narrator of the now-classic 1983 film A Christmas Story. The film was based on Shepard's own semi-autobiographical stories. Shepherd was a humorist and mesmerizing storyteller. Shepherd's oral narrative style was a precursor to that used by Spalding Gray and Garrison Keillor. And, in many ways Glenn Beck's tales are as dark as Shepherd's and Kellior's. But Shepherd had more subtlety. Still, Glenn Beck is free of the grouchiness, cynicism and ennui that seem to characterize Kellior and his musings.
Beck proclaims his tale is one of "redemption" and it certainly is thoroughly spiritual. Beck is a sort of conservative/libertarian, life-affirming inspirationalist who uses every means at his disposal to push and pull and tug his audience forward.
And all I can tell you is that the audience at The Kimmel last night loved being pushed and pulled and tugged. They loved the show. Beck received several standing ovations and then lingered afterwards to sign copies of his book for his adoring fans.
It was a Christmas lovefest for a man whose personal journey has inspired others.
BTW: Thanks to the good folks at The Big Talker for allowing us entree to this SRO show. It's clear that Glenn Beck is a winner for any radio station that is fortunate enough to air his program. Now, let's hope the new administration and Congress don't try to ban programs like Glenn Beck under the guise of a reincarnated "fairness" doctrine. God help us!

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