Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
If I had skipped the first story in this collection, I would be writing that I am not a David Sedaris fan. But SantaLand Diaries is fabulous. After that, the collection goes downhill quickly. There are some interesting subtleties in Dinah, the Christmas whore that have to do with observing the narrator learn that he doesn't know his family as well as he thought he did. But other stories such as Seasons Greetings to our Family and Friends and Front Row Center With Thaddeus Bristol use forced humor in a way I didn't find amusing. In both these cases he develops a narrator who is racist or culturally bigoted, then in his effort to portray that character as way over the top he gives the reader offensive behavior that is supposed to be funny. I didn't think it was.
But SantaLand Diaries alone is well worth the price of this book. (I listened to the audio version, which I would recommend. David Sedaris has a wonderful speaking voice and so does his sister, Amy.) In this piece the humor is largely self deprecating and in the cases when he turns his attention to other elves or adults waiting to see Santa, the people mostly deserve to be the subjects of our laughter. Some of the elves are aspiring dancers or actresses. He branches off to talk about an elf who once appeared as an flamingo dancer on One Life to Live. He also give us a Santa who take himself too seriously and an elf who fancies himself a ladies man. I was alone in my car when I was listening to this and I was laughing out loud.
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