Monday, November 18, 2013

Review: Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris

Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris
Publisher: Little Brown & Co
Publication Date: December 28, 1998
Page Count: 166.
Genre: Adult, Short Story, Memoir, Humor
Goodreads & Amazon

Last week, the snowy season officially fell upon Chicago and suddenly I felt guilty for still having my Halloween decorations up. My Halloween decorations are still up, but the light snow fall put me in the holiday spirit. I don't believe in putting up Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving, so I resorted to the next best thing which was finding a Christmasy book to read. Fate should have it that as chunky snowflakes fell outside of my library, I stumbled across Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris in the stacks. I'm a long-time lover of David Sedaris. I've read a majority of his essay collections and can always count on him to make me laugh-out-loud. This story collection was no exception. In fact, I was crying within the first three pages over a joke about Sallie Mae--not even Christmas related at all! For this review, I've decided to share my Top 5 stories out of the twelve that are featured in this little collection. Here they are in the order in which they appear in the book:

SantaLand Diaries
This was the first story in the book, and introduced us to the spirit of the rest of the collection: witty, sarcastic, dry, slightly twisted, and hilarious. In this essay, formatted like--you guessed it--diary entries, a thirty-something year old David is forced to apply for a job as an elf at a Macy's SantaLand when his dreams of becoming New York's finest writer just isn't turning out. Sedaris shares the dirty ins-and-outs of a green-tighted, yellow-turtlenecked, velvet-vested Elf in SantaLand. From too-true to character Santa's, and predatory elves who pray on single moms, he shares it all.

Season's Greetings to Our Friends and Family!!!
In this twisted, cautionary tale, Jocelyn Dunbar is asking for something a little out of the ordinary in her family's annual Christmas greeting card. When her American husband's twenty-two year old Vietnamese daughter, a product of an affair during the war, turns up on the Dunbar's doorstep, the ever-optimistic Jocelyn learns that life can get much worse than she thought. She's already dealt with her daughter marrying a despicable boy and giving birth to a drug-addicted baby. But Khe-Sahn, who typically wears only bikinis, is more than Jocelyn can stand. This story was outrageous and funny in a way that shouldn't have been funny at all. Jocelyn's use of multiple exclamation points and poor-little-me narrative gave me just the idea of what kind of woman she was and it was fabulous.

Front Row Center with Thaddeus Bristol
A scathing review written by Thaddeus Bristol of local, elementary school holiday plays. I died over this one, and he perhaps says everything and more about what parents are perhaps thinking during a child's dull Christmas play. Thaddeus Bristol hilariously takes things way too seriously, and puts things a little too bluntly, stating that a one-footed student only got the role of Tiny Tim out of sympathy.

Based Upon a True Story
A television executive, known for his brilliance at creating TV dramas and sit-coms, visits a small town church and addresses it's attendees on Christmas Eve, offering all of them rewards that would make their lives incredibly easier. However, in order to receive the reward, they must convince one of their own to sell her story to the television executive so he can make a mini-series of it. Her story is quite unbelievable, and up until now, she has remained silent about her incredible story. It is now up to the locals to get her talking, to the exec only, and for a price.

Christmas Means Giving
This was maybe my favorite story in the whole book because of its outrageousness alone. A family is the richest, most well-to-do family with the most meaningful Christmas greeting card in their community until the Cottinghams move in next door. The Cottinghams start small, renovating their house to be bigger and better than our narrator's family. Our narrator matches each move of his neighbor's, adding extensions to his house, sports fields, display rooms, and theaters. But the Cottinghams cross the line when they steal the annual theme of our narrator's family's Christmas card. Then it is war, with each family one-upping each other in the most over the top ways to prove that their family fully embodies the motto: Christmas Means Giving.

A couple of the stories included in Holidays on Ice weren't as gripping as these first five, but they were entertaining in their own way. Next to the pure craziness within Christmas Means Giving and Season's Greetings, some of the stories simply paled in comparison.

Have you read this collection? What did you think? Do you have any other favorite Christmas reads?

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