Saint Nick is a new novella by author Fred Tribuzzo, at a scant 75 pages it is a quick read, but a deeply satisfying one. In many ways it treads along the same path as Dickens’ Christmas Carol, a disenchanted man being shown the folly of his ways, but with a very unique twist,

Paul Castelluci is a middle aged and somewhat bitter and twisted Bankruptcy Lawyer. Bankruptcy is a good way to describe Paul, everything in his life appears bankrupt, bankrupt of spirituality, bankrupt of family, bankrupt in his relationships. A sad example of a man, one that few could love.

Divorced from his wife when their son Will was three years old, their relationship is to say the least strained. Will is now a grown man and fighting for his country in Iraq. A war that Paul disagrees with and this has done nothing but add yet more distance between them.

Paul does however love to read, and his favorite book is Black Elk Speaks, a 1930’s biography of a famous Sioux shaman. There is honor in Black Elk, in Paul’s mind this shaman is a hero, he does not need Christianity, he has his ancient wisdom and needs nothing else.

Is it all a dream, or is it a visitation? Black Elk is talking to Paul? Black Elk explains that yes he was a shaman but later turned to Christianity and joined the Catholic Church. Black Elk is unimpressed with Paul, his lifestyle, and his beliefs and persuades him to go to a disused church the following evening, Christmas Eve:

Take some blankets. Sleep there on the place where Mass has been said, as long as you have been alive and I’ve been dead. I’ll return and guide you to the place you’ve never been, a place to walk along the shores of eternity – where your soul will have a chance to heal, if you’ll allow it.

Paul does indeed follow the advice.

Where is this place, is it heaven or hell? It is neither, it is somewhere in between, a no mans land. It is here that Paul meets not only Black Elk, but two other famous warriors Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. Each in their way show Paul some aspect of his past and a glimpse of one future scenario.

Will this be enough to change Paul? I will let the reader determine that answer.

I will say this, I enjoyed reading Saint Nick a great deal, Fred Tribuzzo is a very gifted writer and I will certainly be looking out for his next offering. He manages to cover a great deal of ground in a very short period of time, but the prose is not rushed. The story is one that I found personally very thought provoking and if you are involved in some family conflict a story that might well give you some pause for thought.

Fred Tribuzzo does have a web site supporting the book, and you can also order your copy of Saint Nick from Amazon.

Simon Barrett

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