Mr. Ives’ Christmas (Magill's Literary Annual 1991-2005)
Oscar Hijuelos’ fourth novel begins with an epigraph from Clement A. Miles, author of the 1912 study Christmas in Ritual and Tradition: “It is difficult to be religious, impossible to be merry, at every moment of life, and festivals are as sunlit peaks, testifying above dark valleys, to the eternal radiance.” Mr. Ives’ Christmas is the story of a life that, while not devoid of dark valleys, bears witness to eternal radiance.
For Edward Ives, called “Eduardo” by his many Hispanic friends and “Mr. Ives” by the respectful voice of the novel, the most significant experiences seem to occur during Christmas seasons, the sunlit peaks that sustain his trust and cheer throughout the calendar. A few days before Christmas in 1967, however, his beloved seventeen-year-old son Robert is shot to death on a New York sidewalk outside church by a fourteen-year-old stranger. The defining event of Mr. Ives’s life, the gratuitous murder of a promising young man who was scheduled to enter the Franciscan order in six months, tests the father’s faith and reveals his character. The misfortunes that Mr. Ives suffers are not exactly those of Job, but his one traumatic loss challenges his devout Catholicism and his magnanimity.
Mr. Ives’ Christmas is constructed not around an intricate concatenation of events but rather the textures of seven decades in the life of one lambently ordinary man. A foundling who had been...
(The entire section is 1927 words.)
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Bibliography (Identities & Issues in Literature)
Sources for Further Study
Boston Globe. November 5, 1995, p. 70.
Chávez, Lydia. “Cuban Riffs: Songs of Love.” Los Angeles Times Magazine, April 18, 1993, 22-28.
Coffey, Michael. “Oscar Hijuelos.” Publishers Weekly, July 21, 1989, 42-44.
Houston Chronicle. December 3, 1995, p. Z20.
The New York Times Book Review. C, December 3, 1995, p. 9.
The New Yorker. LXXI, August 21, 1995, p. 126.
San Francisco Chronicle. October 29, 1995, p. REV3.
The Washington Post Book World. XXV, December 10, 1995, p. 2.
(The entire section is 64 words.)