Duke University Press, Duke University Libraries, and Horse & Buggy Press to Release Special Print Edition of Allan Gurganus’s Holiday Story “A Fool for Christmas”

978-1-4780-0938-2Allan Gurganus’s “A Fool for Christmas” first charmed audiences when he read it on NPR’s “All Things Considered” in 2004. Together with Duke University Libraries, which acquired Gurganus’s archives in 2018, and Horse & Buggy Press, Duke University Press is pleased to be bringing the story into print for the first time in a limited edition with hand-printed letterpress covers.

The story is set during the Christmas season, when mall pet store manager Vernon Ricketts splits his time between selling irresistible puppies and kittens festooned with holiday bows and shielding the mall’s loiterers from its over-zealous manager, “Terminator” Vanderlip. Just days before Christmas, Vernon notices a small, bedraggled girl in a worn overcoat desperately trying to blend into the mall’s background. Sensing she’s a runaway in trouble, Vernon feels obliged to help. His kindness and their chance encounter will produce a Christmas miracle that becomes a legend as it changes lives.

Allan Gurganus‘s fiction has been translated into sixteen languages. His books Gurganusinclude Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells AllWhite PeoplePlays Well with OthersThe Practical Heart; and Local Souls. He has been awarded the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the American Academy’s Sue Kaufman Prize for best first novel, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Lambda Literary Award, and the National Magazine Prize.

Dave Wofford of Horse & Buggy Press has designed over 150 books, including over 20 fine press titles that bear the H&B imprint, many which have won awards for their content and design. This includes It Had Wings, the 1997 publication which features eight pen and ink drawings Allan made to illustrate his oft anthologized short story (originally published by Knopf in White People). This hand-printed, hand-bound edition was produced in a limited edition of 335 signed and numbered copies and also included a “Story of the Story,” in which Allan details turning a novella into a much shorter form after receiving insightful feedback from music composer Bruce Saylor, who in turn set the story to a musical score.

Gurganus created eleven hand-drawn color illustrations for this special edition.

In a new afterword for the story, Allan Gurganus says, “The seasonal reading of this tale always stirs discussion about the state of our imperiled nation: how can we live lives like his—making virtue a daily possibility?”

Deborah Jakubs, Rita DiGiallonardo Holloway University Librarian & Vice Provost for Library Affairs at Duke University Libraries says, “When Duke acquired the literary archive of Allan Gurganus, we knew we were adding a remarkable body of work to our already strong collection of writers in the southern literary tradition. We are delighted to work with Horse & Buggy Press and Duke University Press to bring this first publication of “A Fool for Christmas” out of the archive and onto the page— a gift to us all.”

“We are honored to play a role in this publication,” said Dean Smith, Director of Duke University Press. “Allan Gurganus is a wonderful writer and this holiday story is a compassionate and important one for our time.”

Allan Gurganus will appear at The Regulator Bookshop in Durham to read his beloved story on December 12. He is available for interviews. Copies of the limited edition will be available at Triangle area bookshops.

The publication date is November 26, 2019.

Booksellers wanting more information or wishing to place an order for the book can contact Sales Manager Jennifer Schaper at jennifer.schaper@dukeupress.edu.
All other inquiries: Laura Sell, Publicity, lsell@dukeupress.edu or 919-687-3639.

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