Saturday, December 22, 2007

Twelfth Book of Christmas

So we come to the end of this little series of mine with a distinctively adult title- David Sedaris's Holidays on Ice, a small, pithy collection of short stories, part-memoir, part-fiction, about the holiday we call Christmas.

I love this book. I treasure this book. Or rather, I treasure the first entry, a short memoir piece called "The SantaLand Diaries," about the time Sedaris spent one December working as an elf in Macy's SantaLand in New York City. Far from an idyll, it's raunchy and hilarious, with so much to relate to even if you've never been an elf. This story made me literally roll with laughter the first time I read it, and every time I've re-read it. But really the same can be said for me of any of Sedaris's memoir-essays. In fact, I can no longer read Sedaris in public, because the last time I did, someone offered to get medical assistance for me because she thought I was having a some kind of fit. No joke.

His short stories I'm not so crazy about. My impression is that while they are entertaining enough they tend to be formulaic and often center on characters who are narcissistic and devoid of both empathy and self-awareness to an extent that is truly bizarre and disturbing. So my general rule is, skip the fiction and focus on the memoir. The short stories in this volume, like "Seasons Greetings to our Friends and Family!!!", about a family dealing with the arrival of a long-lost daughter, follows this pattern and I always enjoyed the more autobiographical pieces more.

I would also like to add one thing about "The SantaLand Diaries." There has been a stage play made of this story, which I have seen. I wouldn't bother with it if I were you. Stick to the prose on the page. It's magic, just like Christmas.

I'm not going to be blogging for a few days as I enjoy the holiday with my family. Whatever you'll be doing for the next few days, make it good.

Oh yeah, and if you want to buy the book click on the cover.

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