A perfect Christmas gift for music lovers, Pretty Paper is Willie Nelson’s inspiring Christmas fable, based on his holiday classic “Pretty Paper.”
More than fifty years ago, Willie Nelson’s beloved Christmas song “Pretty Paper” first hit the airwaves. And for all these years, Willie has wondered about the real-life Texas street vendor, selling wrappings and ribbons, who inspired his song. Who was this poor soul? What did his painful trials say about our loves, our hopes, our dreams in this holiday season—and in the rest of our lives?
It’s the early sixties and Willie Nelson is down and out, barely eking out a living as a singer-songwriter. The week before Christmas, he spots a legless man on a cart, selling wares in front of Leonard’s Department Store in Fort Worth, Texas. The humble figure, by the name of Vernon Clay, piques Willie’s curiosity, but Vernon is stubbornly private and—despite Willie’s charming queries—has no interest in telling his story. Willie is tenacious, though, and he eventually learns that Vernon is a fellow musician, a fine guitarist and singer.
When Vernon disappears, he leaves behind only a diary, which tells an epic tale of life-altering tragedies, broken hearts, and crooked record men, not to mention backroad honky-tonks, down-home cooking, and country songwriting genius. Deeply moved and spurred on by Vernon’s pages, Willie aims to give the man one last shot at redemption and a chance to embody the holiday spirit.
is an American country music singer-songwriter, as well as a poet, actor, and activist. He is also the author of six previous books. Nelson was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1993. David Ritz
coauthored Nelson’s memoir, It’s a Long Story
, and has collaborated with everyone from Ray Charles to Don Rickles.
Praise for Pretty Paper
“This is a touching, well-crafted, hard-knocks tale that earns its bittersweet ending; it stays with you like a mournful melody you can't quite shake.”—Jocelyn McClurg, USA Today“Pretty Paper
has an It's a Wonderful Life
quality.”—David Martindale, The Dallas Morning News
“Always a fine songwriter and poet, Nelson now fictionalizes one of his songs....It reads like a chapter out of Nelson’s life.”—The Roanoke Times
“Willie Nelson has a gift for finding the beauty in the commonplace, and his song 'Pretty Paper' is a perfect example of the genius in his craft. A Christmas song that has been recorded by everyone from Roy Orbison to Chris Issak, it is a poignant holiday tale about a disabled vendor selling his wares on the street....Nelson tries to pay those who’ve inspired him back the best way he can -- by giving them the dignity of a great story.”—Sarah Lee, The Blaze
“Utterly charming and page-turning.”—Bob Ruggiero, Houston Press
“An inspiring, fictionalized account of the man behind the lyrics....Nelson spins a fast-paced story that is hard to put down.”—Glenn Dromgoole, Abilene Reporter-News
“Willie established long ago that he can conjure up a haunting two-minute tale in three-quarter time. But perhaps he should have been writing long-form feel-good fiction as well—because Pretty Paper
is a good story well told...wholesome and heartfelt and rings true in every way...the reading experience will feel as if you’ve sat down with Willie Nelson in his tour bus and listened for a spell as he shared a homespun story from his adventure-filled life.”—David Martindale, The Fort Worth Star-Telegram
“Willie Nelson fans—you don’t have to go far to find these—will love it...smooth and insistent prose...in the manner that Willie would talk if he were just sitting down with you and telling you the story (and what a treat that would be).”—Larry Thornberry, The American Spectator
“A warm, witty holiday fable.”—Parade
“Willie Nelson, who has always told wonderful stories in song form, proves he can be just as effective in print narrative.”—Booklist
“This engaging holiday musical treat by a country music star will delight all readers, particularly Nelson’s fans.”—Library Journal