Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Nonfiction Review: Holidays on Ice

First, a warning to those who love to watch holiday movies on Lifetime and the Hallmark Channel that bring tears to your eyes: David Sedaris' collection of holiday-themed essays, Holidays on Ice, is probably not for you.

Sedaris is his usual snarky self in this collection of essays, poking fun of our culture's unique approach to the holiday season, which tends to bring out both the best and the worst in people.  The best essay of the bunch is easily "Santaland Diaries" in which Sedaris tells of the Christmas season he spent working as an elf in Macy's Santaland.  He is at his funniest in this lengthy essay, deftly bringing our attention to the ironies of the season and the peculiarities of human behavior.

I have to admit that I didn't enjoy all of the essays in this collection.  A couple of them, especially "Season's Greetings..." and "Christmas Means Giving" were just a bit too harsh for me, bashing me over the head with their obvious points rather than making use of Sedaris' typical subtle irony, and making me cringe rather than chuckle (one of these was not actually written by Sedaris).  His best are his essays that draw from his own life, including "Dinah the Christmas Whore." 

A note on format and version:  I listened to the audio of what I presume was the earlier 1997 edition of this collection.  I love listening to Sedaris on audio because he reads his own essays.  My edition contained only 6 stories, while a later edition, the one now readily available, contains 12 essays - the additions I read about in reviews sound like very good additions, so I suspect the later edition has more of what was good (the picture above and the link below are for the newer edition).

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