reviews

Book review: Holidays on Ice, by David Sedaris

This is a short collection, especially for the audiobook version: only six stories, and I recommend closing the book/ejecting the CD before the last one.

I’ll give a brief description and a funniness grade for each.

SantaLand Diaries: This is a series of anecdotes about Sedaris’ time working as a mall elf for the Christmas season. He achieves some great material out of a job that’s generally acknowledged as a bottom-rung vocation, with stories about colorful fellow elves, Santas, and the families who stand in line for hours to take a picture with Santa. It also contains what made me laugh the most in the whole anthology:

She said, “I’m going to have you fired.”

I had two people say that to me today, “I’m going to have you fired.” Go ahead, be my guest. I’m wearing a green velvet costume; it doesn’t get any worse than this. Who do these people think they are?

“I’m going to have you fired!” and I wanted to lean over and say, “I’m going to have you killed.”

Funniness grade: A

Based Upon a True Story: This had a creative format: entirely in first-person, as a TV producer delivering a Christmas sermon to a small rural church. The reason why is slowly revealed as he talks on and on, alternating between insulting and cajoling his audience to get what he really wants.

Funniness grade: A

Season’s Greetings to Our Friends and Family!!!: As the title indicates, this story is in the format of a family Christmas letter to all the acquaintances you usually like to brag to about what your family’s done this year. But the writer of this particular letter does not exactly have anything to brag about — instead, an increasingly horrific story about her husband’s previously unknown 22-year-old Vietnamese daughter who’s come to live with them. The depiction of her, especially her speech over the audiobook, made me pretty uncomfortable, as gratingly negative and racist stereotypes usually do.

Funniness grade: C-

Front Row Center with Thaddeus Bristol: A fairly amusing take on the Professional Critic delivering withering reviews of elementary school pageants, but I can’t remember anything memorable about it.

Funniness grade: B

Dinah, the Christmas Whore: I’ve read this one before in another Sedaris anthology, and it is a good story about rejecting Christmas cynicism (particularly the sort teenagers like to affect, as Sedaris had) with a more unconventional Christmas experience. Isn’t rescuing a sex worker from domestic violence what Christmas is all about?

Funniness grade: B

Christmas Means Giving: An over-the-top satire of two super-rich families competing first in acquisition, then in giving away their possessions (and eventually their organs, body parts, and children) to a local vagrant. It got pretty graphic and gross, actually.

Funniness grade: F

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2 thoughts on “Book review: Holidays on Ice, by David Sedaris

  1. Haha, I love your description of the last one. Thanks for sharing! Always preferred Sedaris on audio book (his readings add an extra umph). Either way, thanks for sharing! If you’re ever interested in some awesome book reviews and literary musings, be sure to follow! Thanks!

    • Glad you enjoyed it! I just tell it like it is. I’ve added a couple more Sedaris audiobooks to my library holds list, so there should be more reviews coming along. I agree, I really love his readings!

      I’ll check out your blog!

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