For a limited time, download for free!

Buy the e-book here!

What if George Bailey wasn’t saved by his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody, on that snowy Christmas Eve in Bedford Falls? This reimagining of the beloved Frank Capra classic It’s a Wonderful Life (and the Phillip Van Doren Stern story that inspired it) tells the story of Bedford Falls and its inhabitants after the death of their drama’s central character.

The Last Temptation of Clarence Odbody restores the dark undercurrent of the Van Doren Stern’s short story “The Greatest Gift” to the uplifting plot of Capra’s film, and explores how the familiar characters in it might respond to the dire circumstances created by George Bailey’s disappearance from their lives. The paths of an introspective cab driver, a ruthless henchman, and a wayward daughter collide nearly twenty years later in the town that defined their reputations for better or for worse.



ASKIEW REVIEWS: "I'm blown away by what a great idea this is!... The next time I watch this film, there's no doubt I'll be picturing this alternate ending and thinking of these characters in different ways, and this will make it as fresh for me as the first time I saw it. Jughead has earned his wings." -Ben Hunter - Askew Reviews

"John Jughead Pierson's strength as an artist is his seemingly endless ability to find new worlds of meaning in the simplest, most familiar ingredients--it used to be three chords and an attitude; in this new book, it is a plot we all think we know and are sick to death of--and, thanks to his passion, humor, and soul, make it all seem utterly fresh, absolutely vital, and like something we cannot live without. It was a joy to read."
—Jim DeRogatis, rock critic, author, co-houst, Sound Opinions

"I've always loved John's mind. Almost more than John himself. It's a mind that you can trust and be fdascinated by what it makes his mouth say and his body do. You won't be disappointed by this fascinating piece of work."
—Dino Stamatopolous, writer for Mr. Show, Morel Orel, Mary Shelley's Frankenhole, and NBC's Community


"A fiendishly smart writer...intelligent and provocative." — The Chicago Tribune

"Like the best plays of Ionesco, Albee, and Pirandello, Ian Pierce (John Jughead Pierson) merely hints at the deepest level of truth." — Justin Hayford, Chicago Reader

"Pierce is determined to fashion dense, cryptic works that confound as much as they enlighten us." — Nick Green, Chicago Reader

39ffb2c008a0d127f8438010.L.jpgPRAISE FOR WEASELS IN A BOX:

"Reading Weasels In A Box is time well spent in the company of the quirky, intelligent, funny, talented, eccentric man who plays a mean underwater guitar. You won’t regret or forget it. Trust me." — Graham Rae, The New Review

"Weasels in a Box is revealing, compelling, and a flat out fun time for all to enjoy." — Denis Sheehan, Askew Reviews


5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, February 6, 2012
lulubella (Chicago)

I am probably one of the few people celebrator's of Christmas who does not religiously watch It's A Wonderful Life every holiday. It's always seems too cloying, too tidy, too precious. I know it's darker than it appears, but it seems that most people gloss over the darkness and focus on the happy ending. The Last Temptation of Clarence Odbody, on the other hand, dives right into that darkness and explores the what-ifs of the film. What if George didn't survive his suicide attempt? Would the life that Clarence predicted for the town come to pass? It's a gutsy idea, to take on one of America's most beloved films, but Pierson is equal to it. He tells a story that is both heartbreaking and uplifting, and writes like he himself has earned his wings.

This book is both a pager-turner, and a serious piece of literary fiction. It is, quite simply, the best thing I've read in a long, long time.

5.0 out of 5 stars The Last Temptation of Clarence Odbody, January 11, 2012
Kevin D

"It's A Wonderful Life" is an iconic American film. Like much of Capra's work, it captures the heart and spirit of mid-century America and the virtue of small town values. The story hinges on George Bailey's despair and his contemplation of suicide as a way to remedy the tragic situation he finds himself in the midst of. When a low-ranking angel, Clarence Odbody, appears at the climatic moment and shows George what life in Bedford Falls would be like if George's wish that he had never been born came true. It's not a pretty picture, but Clarence's intervention worked and precipitated a happy ending for George, his family and friends and the entire town. But what if Clarence didn't intercede and George didn't survive his plunge into the frozen river below the bridge? That's the starting point for a nifty re-telling of a familiar tale - "The Last Temptation of Clarence Odbody" by John Jughead Pierson.

Pierson takes readers to a point a few decades after George Bailey's disappearance and assumed demise. In the process he fleshes out the supporting characters that populated George's cinematic life and makes them the focus of this updated story - including one or two who never had a line in the film. The conceit works well, creatively answering the question of what became of the good, and bad, citizens of Bedford Falls. But it's not just a time travelogue. Pierson uses the narrative to raise a number of philosophical "what if's" that cause a reader to pause and deeply contemplate, from the existence of guardian angels to a theoretical "branching space-time" interpretation of human events. That's quite a bit of territory to cover in a book of just over 200 pages, but Pierson is a capable guide and quite a good storyteller. I enjoyed it all the more by re-visiting the film once again right after reading this intriguing, well-written story.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoy a classic in a new way, January 10, 2012
Zorba Z (Northern IL) - See all my reviews

A brilliant re-thinking of Its a Wonderful Life, with tremendous character development intertwined in a terrific story arc. Definitely one of the best books of the year.

5.0 out of 5 stars Will be a lasting favorite..., January 3, 2012
Dina M. Carani

The Last Temptation of Clarence Odbody is an imaginative, beautifully told, alternate unfolding of the story It's A Wonderful Life. By way of rich characterizations, skillfully depicted scenes, and passionate storytelling, we are compelled to explore the what-ifs of life...the ripple effects of paths taken and those not taken...moments of happenstance and intent...the power and vulnerabilities of our humanness.

With an edge and a darkness that drive this story away from Capra's classic, Pierson's work is an impressive balance of humor, tenderness, depth, and absurdity.

This book left me feeling grateful for having read it. I trust I will return to it again and again. Highly recommended.

5.0 out of 5 stars A truly rewarding read, December 31, 2011

When a work is referred to as being personal, it gives a reader a feel of closeness to the artist. In very special instances, the reader gets snuck up on and surprised to find themselves waiting in the pages. I was floored by how much of myself was in there. How the heck did he do that? Did that make sense? Regardless, I challenge you to read this book and write a review that doesn't seem shameful in its lack of poeticism. This utterly memorable book deserves better than me! All I can manage is "Wow." The characters were rich and the whole thing was imaginative.

5.0 out of 5 stars The existence of this book is statistically improbable and also awesome,February 21, 2012
Clifton Leo Arthur Frei

This book shouldn't exist. It does and I'm very glad for it and you should be too and I'll get to that, but again it really shouldn't be here. There is a place book ideas are born, cosmically, and it might not be the place where the author resides. I don't know who wrote "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies," but in my mind the idea was born in a dorm room, cinderblock construction, dirty clothes a foot deep in all directions, Call of Duty # whatever on pause, and an oily english lit student seated at a Target computer desk (covered in bowls of half eaten ramen and comic books) reading Jane Austin, looking up and saying, "dude, this would be so much better with zombies."

"The Last Temptation of Clarence Odbody's" cosmic birthplace is a VA hospital common room on Christmas Eve, 1968. There, 3 or 4 lonely veterans, their family and friends lost or too far away, gather around a 19" Zenith, some in chairs, some in wheeled chairs, some with arms, some without, utilitarian hospital clothes and utilitarian cigarette smoke, watching "It's a Wonderful Life" and feeling like it was the greatest lie ever told. Feeling like they were the proof. This is the place where someone could be in the proper mindset to watch Frank Capra and Jimmy Stewart milk the Americana cow of human kindness and think to themselves, "you know what, everyone would be better off if George Bailey was dead." It is a place of despair.

And this is where the brilliant mind of John Pierson works best.

Because John Pierson recognizes that the point of despair is the point where you have nothing and thus everything is possible because there is nothing to weigh you down. Nothing is the birthplace of Do-It-Yourself, nothing is the birthplace of poor theatre, nothing is the birthplace of Punk Rock, and these are all things that John Pierson excels at.

So this is not a book about how everyone would be better off if George Bailey were dead. It is a book about what happens to a community that loses its foundation and has to rebuild, what happens to individuals whose lives are completely changed by the removal of the most important man in their world and how they have to adjust and adapt. The lives of George's guardian angel, wife, children, friends, associates, and even his enemies are remade in the most fascinating and intricate ways, but never do they veer into the fantastical. Pierson maps the trajectory of each with a steady and masterful hand.

The incredible trick of this book is Pierson's ability to place you in the minds of the characters. There is something about his writing style that transposes their thoughts onto your own and allows you to think and feel as they do. This is particularly effective when exploring Zuzu, George's daughter and Frank, the evil Potter's henchman.

This book is also funny in parts, you should know that too. It may also be more life affirming than the movie made from the original short story it was drawn from. It is an incredible and an incredibly unique book. It's existence is highly unlikely because only John Pierson could kill a character who occupies a special place in the hearts and minds of millions, who is also connected to the most popular and sentimental of all holidays, and still manage to make you feel good about humanity.

5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best Books of 2011, December 29, 2011
Bruce D. Janu (Cary, Illinois)

"I'm so dreadfully sorry, Zuzu. Everything that's taken place since then happened because I allowed your father to die. I'm responsible for why we're here, for the way things are."

This is what Clarence, the one-time Angel Second Class tells George Bailey's daughter over two decades after Bedford Falls' favorite son went missing that Christmas Eve. The Last Temptation of Clarence Odbody re-imagines a world in which Clarence failed in his mission to save the distraught, yet warmhearted owner of the Building and Loan. The characters are familiar enough, but things have changed in Bedford Falls. Zuzu drives a beat up '65 Ford Mustang. Ernie Bishop, the former Bedford Falls taxi driver is now a renowned author and Frank Hagney, Potter's former henchman is racked with guilt and loneliness, trying to make amends for all that he did prior to George's disappearance. And poor Clarence, unsure if he did the right thing, is doomed to walk the earth, his worn-out suitcase in hand, trying to piece together the mysteries of life and fate.

Keeping with the spirit of the original story, The Last Temptation of Clarence Odbody offers readers familiar with the movie a look into the world of "what-ifs." Meticulously researched and painstakingly faithful to the original characters, the novel is a breath of fresh air; a completely original take on a familiar story. As one who has made watching It's a Wonderful Life a yearly tradition, I was a bit skeptical at first by the premise of this book. It seemed almost blasphemous to mess with such an iconic American story. But The Last Temptation of Clarence Odbody does not take anything away from the classic film. If anything, it enhances that story and provides a means to contemplate the philosophical issues brought up in the film. This version is darker, to be sure. But beneath the tragedy and loss, it is a story of hope, forgiveness and redemption.

The Last Temptation of Clarence Odbody is one of the best books of 2011.

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars It's A Wonderful Book, December 16, 2011
Lisa B

This review is from: The Last Temptation of Clarence Odbody (Paperback)
A fresh take on an old classic: the author takes a familiar cultural icon and turns it on its head in spellbinding fashion. Marvelous food for thought, remarkably inventive, quite a ride! You've never given so much thought to so many characters' backstories in your life, guaranteed. Utterly fascinating!

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars ...Clarence Odbody is My New FAVORITE Book!, December 15, 2011
Mandy (Chicago)

The Last Temptation of Clarence Odbody is a fantastic retelling of the classic story "It's a Wonderful Life." The attention to detail, rich interior lives of the characters (who are beautifully developed in vivid detail), and overarching plot lines are unparalleled in any book I've read recently. It's among the best of the best. The only drawback is that you have to be prepared to loose sleep; This book is a page turner.