Monday, July 16, 2012

Review: Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris

Holidays on Ice
Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this as part of The Ultimate David Sedaris Audio Collection. This lists itself as abridged, but I'm unable to put my finger on any of the stories within this quick collection I might've missed out on.

There are two nonfiction essays in this collection, "SantaLand Diaries" and "Dinah, the Christmas Whore." Both are hilariously funny. "SantaLand Diaries" tells of Sedaris's brief stint as an elf in Macy's SantaLand for one season, and of his various ways of dealing with such a soul-crushing occupation where he has to wear a uniform of crushed velvet and pantaloons. "Dinah, the Christmas Whore" shows him a side of his sister, Lisa, he hadn't known about, and that unexpectedly brightens his Christmas as a teenager. (The story isn't as smutty as my description makes it sound. He and his sisters are simply delighted to welcome a real, live hooker into their kitchen for Christmas.)

The rest of the stories are fiction with a sharp satirical bite. "Season's Greetings to Our Friends and Family!!!" is a mock Christmas letter from an upper-middle-class soccer mom (though I suppose that wasn't what she'd be called when the story was originally written) who's had a trying holiday season. "Front Row Center with Thaddeus Bristol" is a mock review of various school Christmas pageants, judged as if they're supposed to be works of art. "Based on a True Story" is a TV exec's attempt to finagle a true story out of someone to make it into a made-for-TV movie. And "Christmas Means Giving" is about a well-off couple who go to bizarre lengths to outdo their next door neighbors' generosity.

It's odd to listen to these stories with the AC blasting, but I do see myself rereading them come Christmastime. Sedaris captures a lot of my cynicism about Missing the Point and commercialism, without harping on the message. I enjoyed them, though they're not as chuckleworthy as his nonfiction pieces.

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