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Book review: ‘Mr. Christmas’

Submitted Art The cover of "Mr. Christmas" is by Nicholas Featherstone.

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Kyle Bullock’s Christmas book — a message of humanity

By Christina Stock

Vision Editor

Local renaissance man, Kyle Bullock, has a new book out — his fourth. Bullock is known in Roswell as a business man at Bullock’s Jewelry, as actor, singer and dancer for productions of local Way Way Off-Broadway Theatre company and — probably his favorite hat to wear: family man and father.

When I saw that Bullock had a new book out with “Mr. Christmas,” as the title, I first thought it is going to be a sweet children’s story with magical reindeers flying, a Santa popping up and/or some sweet angels fluttering around. I should know better, because the author has a wonderful sense for the human spirit, as he proved in the book and play about his family, “Those Unforgettable Black Rims,” which he brought to stage at Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell’s Performing Arts Center several years ago.

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The first words in the short novel, “Mr. Christmas,” warns the reader, not to expect anything like a fairytale.

Bullock had emailed me a short intro, which reads, “Think of the story as my version of a Hallmark Christmas movie — if you love Hallmark, you’ll love this.” Well, after reading the book, I have to say, he is wrong. There is much more depth in his story than anything on that fluffy TV station can offer. But, let’s start from the beginning.

The reader gets pulled into a story of a bitter, resigned man. This man, Ryan, did a perfect job of ruining his life. He betrayed his wife of many years, lost her love and his marriage due to being unfaithful and as a result, ends up in a bar, jobless and calling himself a “loser.”

Then, there’s an encounter with a man who offers Ryan a job and, desperate as he is, he agrees to work for “Nick,” despite thinking that the man is a “nut job.”

With a fast pace, succinct and witty, Bullock draws a painting with words, describing people trapped in poverty and drugs, which Ryan is assigned to supervise as Nick’s accountant and manager.

Bullock is a master of the word, and he uses it to paint a portrait of the individual characters, bringing them to life with their flaws and strengths. A lot like in the classic, “It’s a Beautiful Life,” just without time travel, supernatural happenings and angels, Ryan begins to change. But with every chapter, there are twists, turns and hurdles.

This story is a heartfelt homage to the human soul. It has a message of hope that change may come because of a human being believing it can happen and risking everything to make sure it does. Unlike other anti-heroes, Ryan’s grumpiness and failures make him much more like a real person and — because of the inner monologue and his dumbfounded reactions to the character of Nick and his baffling actions — it is making him rather likable.

When a chilling character approaches Ryan and tells him, “Do something, when no one else will.” I was on the edge of my seat — or rather office chair — rooting for the unlikely hero.

“Mr. Christmas” is a hopeful story with a strong message. It is a story that doesn’t need flying reindeer or a supernatural flying santa, but the miracle of a changed man — because of another man.

I do have one critical point: This story is too good for a short story. I hope that the author will use it as a frame and flesh it out in the future. I’d like to read more about the characters surrounding the heart of the story.

Another highlight of the book is the illustration of each chapter and the cover, which is created by Nicholas Featherstone, also a well-known Way Way Off-Broadway actor.

A treat for the reader is Bullock’s present for those who purchase the book: A free audiobook, narrated by local actors, including Boyd Barrett and Rick Kraft, Jessica Haynes, Jenci Huebner, Summer Souza, Tony Souza, Julie Washicheck and Spenser Willden.

Bullock’s language is clean, but because of the subject, I would recommend the book to older teenagers and up.

“Mr. Christmas” is available online as an ebook and in print. For more information, visit KyleRBullock.com.


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