Thursday, January 6, 2011

Holidays on Ice: A Review

David Sedaris is one of my favorite authors. I'm making a point in 2011 to have read all seven of his short story collections. What I love about his books is that he talks about his family and his daily experiences in a way that makes the mundane hilarious and memorable. All the short stories are independent of one another and can be read in any order. Before reading Holidays on Ice, I read Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim and When You Are Engulfed in Flames. These books were written later in Sedaris' career and were centralized around his own experiences. I compare Holidays on Ice to these books, because it is hard not to.

Holidays on Ice is a collection of twelve short stories focusing on Christmastime themes. "SantaLand Diaries," "Dinah, the Christmas Whore," "Jesus Shaves," "Us and Them," "Let It Snow," "Six to Eight Black Men," and "The Monster Mash" were short stories, told in the first person, referring directly to life stories of David Sedaris. "Season's Greeting to Our Friends and Family!!!" is written as a end of year newsletter which evolves to reveal a family secret and later evolves into a personal account from a prison cell. "Front Row Center with Thaddeus Bristol" is a overall negative point of view of children's plays. "Christmas Means Giving" is a satirical story about competitive donations. "Based Upon a True Story" is about a television producer's plea to a small town. "The Cow and the Turkey" is a fable personifying barn yard animals.

Overall, Sedaris' best work are his personal stories. The above mentioned fictional pieces were funny, alarming, but lacked the charm of his usual work. The best story in Holidays on Ice was "Six to Eight Black Men" where Sedaris explores international traditions. Although, in a close second was "SantaLand Diaries" where Sedaris recounts working as an elf in a department store.

I was drawn to this book wanting to read something about the Christmas season. What really drew me to purchase this Sedaris novel was a review listed first on the back cover from Liesl Schillienger of the New York Times, "Not remotely politically correct or heartwarming." I laughed out loud at this remark and at the inclusion of such review in a prominent location.

I would suggest this book to Sedaris fans. But, for those new to his humor, I would rather have them start off with When You Are Engulfed in Flames. Sedaris has a more consistent voice in his latest novels.

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