Book: Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris

Small collection of stories, half of them quite good

David Sedaris
Holidays on Ice
Little, Brown, 1997
ISBN: 0-316-77923-7
134 pages

David Sedaris is, as I have had occasion to say before (1, 2), a talented and funny storyteller and memoirist. Holidays on Ice is a slim volume that contains six of his stories all of which have Christmas themes. "SantaLand Diaries" is about Mr Sedaris's first job after arriving in New York at the age of 33. He becomes an elf at Macy's on Herald Square, shepherding children who have come to see Santa. Anyone who is at all familiar with Mr Sedaris's writing will probably already be chuckling slightly. The situation is typical for one of his stories: a combination of choice and circumstance has put him in an unusual, even peculiar, situation and it's probably going to be a little more unusual, or even peculiar, on account of his being there. The story is vintage Sedaris and splendidly funny.

The second story, "Season's Greetings to Our Friends and Family!!!" is in the form of one of those letters recounting the past year that some people send along with their Christmas cards. Mr Sedaris gets the breathless and slightly hysterical tone that those letters often have just right. And what an eventful year it was for the Dunbar family!

"Dinah, the Christmas Whore" is about an incident related to Mr Sedaris's sister Lisa's after-school job in high school. Mr Sedaris generally recalls his family life as a boy as being rather quirky. This is a brilliant vignette.

"Front Row Center with Thaddeus Bristol" is in the form of a critic of serious drama reviewing grade-school Christmas pageants. Making even rather gentle fun of grade-school drama is unworthy of Mr Sedaris's talent. And the remaining two stories, "Based Upon a True Story" and "Christmas Means Giving" are also pretty forgettable. Still, the first three stories are thoroughly entertaining and well worth the price of the book.

Posted: Tue - May 13, 2008 at 08:09 PM   Main   Category: