Book Review: Gift Guide: Rock & Roll Books

Pretty Paper: A Christmas Tale

Gift Guide: Rock & Roll Books

"Pretty paper, pretty ribbons of blue." We know the refrain – written by Willie Nelson and popularized by Roy Orbison – about wrapping your presents to your darlin' from you, pretty pencils to write "I love you," etc. Now a holiday classic, its twist pivots on the song's street vendor being handicapped. Texas' red-headed legend apparently wondered what became of the protagonist in the chance encounter over a half-century ago that inspired the early Sixties hit. Aided by David Ritz, Nelson's co-author on his 2015 memoir It's a Long Story: My Life, the double amputee vendor takes a name, Vernon Clay, and a tragic backstory. Fact folds into fiction, as Nelson uses his Nashville tenure and playing Texas dance halls with drummer Paul English to background Clay's fictional journals relating his tale of heartbreak, loss, and music biz double-dealing. The result? The grittiest holiday book this side of Dickens.

Pretty Paper: A Christmas Tale

by Willie Nelson, with David Ritz
Blue Rider Press/Penguin Random House, 304 pp., $23

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