Friday, December 11, 2009

Holidays on Ice, by David Sedaris

David Sedaris is one of those authors that everyone tells me I'll love, but somehow I've never read any of his books. I managed to pinch a copy of Me Talk Pretty One Day on bookmooch, and it made it off my Shelf of Shame (books I've bought but haven't read) and onto my bedstand, but that's as far as I've gotten with David Sedaris.

I decided to spend the month of December doing mostly holiday reading, just as I listen to holiday music all month, and I was pleased to discover that Sedaris had his own book of holiday stories, Holidays on Ice. I was more pleased to discover that this is a short book, filled with short stories - ideally suited to my very short attention span of late.

It was buy one, get one for half price at Borders, and even though I was annoyed that I couldn't find a second book I wanted to buy, I bought it anyway. When the clerk rang my purchase up, she asked if I'd ever read Sedaris before. When I told her I hadn't, she remarked: "Oh. Well, I hope you enjoy it. If you don't, I really recommend Me Talk Pretty One Day - it's hysterical." 


Holidays on Ice consists of six short stories. It starts off brilliantly funny, with "Santaland Diaries," chronicling his experience as a department store elf. A delightfully wicked elf, really, who has seen it all, and I laughed from beginning to end. Who tells their kid to ask Santa to "make Proctor and Gamble stop testing on animals?" Who lets their kid pee into the artificial snow in a department store display? Reading this story made me realize what a truly sane person I am.

The book moves on to "Seasons Greetings to Our Friends And Family!!!" and unfortunately, it's a bit of a downhill slide. This is a send-up of those awful holiday letters people send, the ones where they are telling you all about how awesome and wonderful they all are!!! In this case, the narrator is also exposing what a truly repellent person she is, and although I found it funny to a point, I was also offended by some of the humor. (Killing babies isn't, and never will be, funny to me.)

The rest of the book was more of the same - good enough to finish, definitely some laughs, but also a sort of meanness that was a bit unpleasant. I think the humor could have been achieved more effectively by simply leaving some of that meanness out. He hits his marks, but there's a bit of overkill.

I haven't sworn off Sedaris, but I do think in future I will heed the diplomatic warnings of the clerks at Borders. That said, "Santaland Diaries" was, to me, worth the price of the whole book - I just wish I'd stopped there.

20 books read so far, 30 more books to go - 24 more weeks in which to read them. Uh-oh.

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE SantaLand Diaries but I know what you mean. I like Sedaris best when he's doing the quasi-memoir thing- his fiction always seems lesser to me. Me Talk Pretty is hilarious and I think you'll like it- it's all memoirish. I laughed so much reading this that someone offered to call me an ambulance because they thought I was having some kind of fit. :-)


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