Sunday, January 01, 2006

Holidays on Ice

No, I didn't see an ice skating show -- I bought this petite sampler of six Christmas stories by David Sedaris. I've heard tapes of Sedaris doing readings at bookstores, and I really liked them. At Barnes & Noble a few days before Christmas, I saw this book and started reading parts of the first story, "SantaLand Diaries." It was hilarious, and I decided to buy the book. By the way, this isn't a new release; it's been out in paperback since 1998.

Holidays on Ice is okay, but it could have been much better. "SantaLand Diaries" is easily the cream of the crop, a delightful chronicle of the life of a Macy's elf that is rather like "Miracle on 34th Street: the Untold Story." The second story, framed as a twisted Christmas letter (a genre begging for satire), is darker but still entertaining. The book declines through the following stories, with the rambling, obtuse "Based Upon a True Story" being the nadir. The final selection, "Christmas Means Giving," is amusing in a morbid sense like the second story, though it tries a bit too hard.

On the back page of Holidays on Ice, there is a photo of the audio version of the book. While the paperback cover shows a holiday glass filled with some liquid and ice cubes (I'd guess liquor, but maybe that's just my idea of getting through the holidays), the audiobook package shows Santa Claus standing at a urinal (with an empty one on either side, as is the guy code). Intriguing. I had never thought about Santa using the urinal. Could you imagine a little boy coming up to him and asking for gifts while he's trying to do his business? And what if Santa has a shy bladder? It's probably best for department store Santas to have their own private toilet facilities, or at least something apart from the customers. Besides, you wouldn't want an impressionable young kid to see Santa adjusting his fake beard in the mirror.

All in all, Holidays on Ice is an uneven book. Since the first two stories originally appeared in Sedaris' Barrel Fever, one might be better off buying that instead. It's only a few dollars more than the $8.99 Holidays on Ice.

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