Sunday, December 27, 2009

Holidays on Ice, David Sedaris

I had originally bought this book for a short read at the beginning of December. Someone saw it on my desk at work and said that they had also read it and later gone to hear David Sedaris read excerpts at a reading. Their suggestion was that if it's available on audiobook, I should do that instead because it was far better when he's reading. I agree.

So, this ended up being my first completed audiobook. I'm glad I took the advice - there were many moments where I was laughing out loud to parts I had read to myself and just smiled. "Holidays on Ice" is a collection of short stories, all of which are tied together around the theme of Christmas. Some of the stories I found to be incredibly funny - others I found to be pretty dark.

Three of my favorites...

'SantaLand Diaries' was fantastic - a look into life as one of Santa's Elves at Macy's. This was a very funny story for me. Even if you've only worked in retail around the holidays, you'll appreciate this story. I worked in a Hallmark store in high school and college - and in December, our customers were often a far cry
from "merry and bright". I also loved hearing about the crazy parents who are so focused on getting the perfect Christmas card photo they don't even give their kid time to tell Santa what he wants for Christmas.

'Christmas Means Giving' I found to be very dark. It's basically a story about two families competing to see who can appear more charitable. The ultimate tale of "keeping up with t
he Jones'". I know people like this... not to this extreme of course. I'm sure we all do - people who are not interested in being charitable for the sake of helping others, but to impress others. I was listening to NPR a couple of weeks ago while stuck in traffic with the other Christmas shoppers. They were talking to people who run soup kitchens and shelters - they were saying that there are so many people trying to volunteer around the holidays they simply do not have the space to accomodate them. My question is, where are these people the other eleven months of the year?

The audiobook version had two stories that are not in the printed edition. 'Six to Eight Black Men' was one of them, and it was one of the funniest things I've heard. I listened to it in my car, then backed it up to listen to again when I got home. Sedaris explores the Dutch version of Santa - pure humor.

If the canned jolliness of the holidays are getting under your skin, this is the perfect cure. A funny, and often times twisted take on "the most wonderful time of the year" may be just the thing you're looking for.

By the way - if you're interested, many libraries have online libraries which you can access from home to download audiobooks to your computer and mp3 player. All you need is a library card. New Hampshire even has a
statewide downloadable audiobook site.

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