As I continue my Christmas reading challenge, I borrowed Pretty Paper from the library. It was a quick read, a fable, based on the song Pretty Paper by Willie Nelson. It is a new release which was published in October 2016.
The book is based on a song written in 1962 which was recorded by the late Roy Orbison in 1963, released by Willie in 1964 and then re-released by Willie for his 1979 Christmas Album. The song had been written after Willie saw a legless man selling paper and pens in front of a department store in Texas. The man was calling out “Pretty paper. Pretty paper” and he later inspired the character of Vernon Clay.
The Christmas fable began with the song that Wille had written over 50 years ago. He collaborated with David Ritz to publish the holiday book. While Willie struggles to get his musical career going, he meets Vernon on the street. Although he wants to learn more about him, Vernon is keen on keeping to himself. Eventually he writes his story on pretty paper and Willie discovers the struggles he had experienced. He had grown up poor, he lost loved ones, his band broke up, he lost his legs and he was living on charity, supporting himself by selling the paper. Despite these hardships he also experienced the love of a feisty grandmother to raise him and was blessed with the talent of writing and playing music.
The book is uniquely printed. Willie’s section are written on plain paper while the 3 sections telling Vernon’s story are printed on light pink (pretty) paper. It is a light holiday read that encourages readers to be happy with their own lives, to consider the impact of others and to persevere and find happiness in the midst of unfortunate circumstances.
It is great to see the 83 year old Willie Nelson still using his creativity to write a novel. I think that this would be a perfect book to base a made for TV holiday movie. It is certainly worth a read and I will think of the story each time I hear the song Pretty Paper playing!