If life were like a Hallmark movie, holidays would be filled with merriment, joy, peace and love. Cookies would always come out of the oven a perfect golden brown, the Christmas tree would smell sweet and never shed its needles and families would gather together to sing songs and hug.
It’s almost enough to make you go all Clark W. Griswold crazy.
Thanks to David Sedaris, however, we can now bask in the glow of a dysfunctional Christmas, a phenomenon he cleverly depicts in one of his earliest collections, Holidays on Ice. This mish-mash of short stories and real-life essays is the perfect antidote to the picture-perfect holiday greeting card Christmas that gets shoved down our throats.
In his typical sarcastic, dry and witty style, Sedaris skewers some of modern society’s best known holiday traditions. In “Seasons Greetings,” he takes the usually self-indulgent and egotistical holiday letter and turns it completely on its head, throwing readers wildly off-course. Meanwhile, the harsh theater critic in “Front Row” blasts the child-like and amateurish Christmas pageant productions put on by local schools. The morally suspect and short-sighted narrator of “Based Upon…” tries in vain to secure the rights to a Christmas story that is sure to capture audiences’ attention because it will be “based upon a true story.” And Christmas giving it taken to a new extreme by the couple in “Christmas Means Giving.”
But the star of the collection has to be Sedaris’ amusingly droll look at life as a Macy’s elf in “The SantaLand Diaries.” Throughout the weeks leading up to Christmas, Sedaris details the various humiliations the Santa Land elves must endure, all while mocking (sometimes silently, sometimes aloud) the masses and masses of Christmas idiots who come to visit Santa Land. Through Sedaris’ eyes, Christmas has never looked so unappealing.
So if you start to get sick of the overwhelmingly saccharine, Hallmark-movie-of-the-week holiday atmosphere, pick up David Sedaris’ Holidays on Ice and be grateful that there are still some people in this world more dysfunctional than you.
[Photo Credit: Google Image Search]
Yee-haw, bookworms. It’s time for another one of them “book news round-up” things. (Sorry about the ridiculous cowboy reference – I’m trying to find ways to make these intros more interesting. I’ll try to do better.)
- The Library of Congress announced that President Obama (I never get tired of saying that) and Mrs. Obama will host a National Book Festival in September. The POTUS and FLOTUS will be hononary chairs of the 9th annual celebration of reading and lifelong literacy (say that ten times fast). The event will be held on the National Mall, naturally and is free to the public.
- The 2009 Man Booker International Prize went to Alice Munro, winning out over finalists including E.L. Doctorow and Joyce Carol Oates. Munro is best known for short fiction and has been writing since the 1960’s. She’s already won several Governor General’s Awards (Canada’s answer to the U.S.’s National Book Award). The Man Booker International is given out every two years to a living author for their overall achievement in literature and body of work.
- Bill Warrington’s Last Chance has become James King’s first chance. King is the winner of Amazon.com’s 2009 Breakthrough Novel Award. As winner, King will have his book published by Penguin Group and receive a very nice advance of $25,000.
- The Millions Book blog has compiled a great detailed list of books that have become movies within the last 20 or so years. Their list includes some of the more well-known book-to-film adaptations, including Atonement, Running with Scissors and Revolutionary Road. But it also highlights some little-known gems: Wristcutters: A Love Story, Possession, and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.
- If you’re looking for summer reading suggestions, check out New York Magazine’s pick for the best books being released this summer (through July). Most of the books are nonfiction or “realistic” fiction, but are good recommendations nonetheless.
- The zany folks over at Omnivoracious are apparently having a good time with the Star Wars: Punch Out and Play book. The SW “action figure/paper dolls” allow fans of all ages to “”decorate your home, office, or any place in need of some intergalactic inspiration and transport yourself to a galaxy far, far away.” I can’t believe some people get paid to play with Star Wars paper dolls. (And yes, I totally wish I could have that job!)
- Lastly, but never leastly, David Sedaris is coming to Boston!!!!! I’m so excited. I was planning to push some people out of the way, as I try to get to the front of the room in Porter Square Books in Cambridge, where Sedaris will be doing a reading on Thursday June 4th. But alas, the reading is sold out. I think, however, you can still show up afterwards and have him sign your copy of When You Are Engulfed in Flames. At the very least, I’m going to try.