Monday, July 28, 2008

"Holidays on Ice" by David Sedaris (pub. 1997)

Every so often you have to treat yourself to a David Sedaris book. If you haven't read David Sedaris, let me introduce him to you. First of all he's extremely funny, his wit is a bit on the cynical and sarcastic side of humor. He's actually been referred to as Garrison Keillor's evil twin. My first introduction to him was the book, "Me Talk Pretty One Day," and I have enjoyed his books ever since.

Sedaris got his start in radio after This American Life producer Ira Glass saw him perform at Club Lower Links in Chicago. In addition to his NPR commentaries, Sedaris now writes regularly for Esquire. Some of his other books include: Barrel Fever (1994), Naked (1997), Me Talk Pretty One Day (2000), Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim (2004), and the latest, When You Are Engulfed in Flames (2008).

Sedaris's younger sister Amy is also a writer and performer; the two have collaborated on plays under the moniker "The Talent Family." Amy Sedaris has appeared onstage as a member of the Second City improv troupe and on Comedy Central in the series Strangers with Candy.

Okay really that's a decent introduction, let's talk about this book.

Like his other books, this one is a collection of stories, the theme of this book of course are the Christmas holidays. In all this book is one you'll find yourself laughing out loud several times so if you get embarassed by such things you may want to read this one privately. Or if you listen to the audiobook be prepared to look funny laughing when others aren't. Speaking of the audio book, it is read by David and he gets a little help from Ann Magnuson and his sister Amy Sedaris. I'll break the rest of this review down to the separate stories.

First you have SantaLand Diaries, this is the tale of David's stint working as an elf during the holiday's at Macy's Santaland. This story has several moments of hilarity but true to David Sedaris's style he throws in a few poignant moments. What are the holidays without a little poingnancy here and there? This story is filled with many adventures in the separate sections of Santaland including the collecting money from the shoppers for photos with Santa. One of the Santas, there are several hired for different shifts, takes his role a bit too seriously and David hates working with him. This "Santa Santa" often asks the kids to tell their favorite Christmas Carol and asks them to sing, if the child is shy Santa asks the elf to sing. David doesn't want to but when Santa coaxes him he sings "Away in a Manger" in the style of Billie Holiday. Santa doesn't ask him to sing anymore.

Season's Greetings to Our Friends and Family!!! is the next section. This story is one that seems like a harmles annual Christmas letter but soon goes to the trials and tribulations of a family that gets an unexpected gift of the husband's illegitmate Vietnamese 22 year old daughter and adopt their natural daughter's "crack-baby."

Dinah, the Christmas Whore, seems to be one of those true stories that David is good at that seem completely unlikely but at the same time could dwell in the realm of possibility. Dinah is a friend of David's older sister who happens to be a prostitute and comes to spend some time with the family around Christmas.

Front Row Center with Thaddeus Bristolm, has got to be one of the funniest yet harshest essays I've ever read. You know all those Christmas plays and pagents you have to sit through if you have grade school kids? Well finally a critic tells it like it is and reviews all the area grade schools plays.

Based Upon a True Story, is the story of a TV producer trying to convince a rural, "redneck/hillbilly" community to have a woman sell her story of how she cut out her own kidney and placed into her young son to save his life, to the TV network.

And finally Christmas Means Giving, is the ultimate battle of one upmanship between two extremely wealthy families.

So when the holidays come around and you get tired of the fuss, pick up this book. Or if you are simply looking for some fun stuff to read anytime pick up this book.

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posted by Gil T. @ 10:15 PM Comments: 0