Thursday, April 30, 2020

Book: Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris

Sedaris, David. Holidays on Ice. New York: Little, Brown.

This is a little book, the sort of little book that one finds by the checkout counter at bookstores during the holiday season. It contains a selection of pieces with holiday themes. I purchased it on sale for $3.97 at some point after the holidays.

I found the selection uneven. On the negative side, I thought both "Based Upon a True Story" and "Christmas Means Giving" went on far too long - there are only so many ways to repeat the same joke before the reader gets tired.

On the positive side, I really liked "Front Row Center with Thaddeus Bristol", a review of children's christmas pagaents for a local newspaper and "The Monster Mash," which corresponds to a different holiday and tells the story of Sedaris' visits to a morgue.

Most fun for me was "Six to Eight Black Men," which tells the story of the bizarre and astoundingly un-woke Christmas narrative around Holland's version of Santa Claus. Said narrative features "Zwarte Piet" or Black Peter, and his band of helpers, the "black men" in the title of the piece. I had the amazing experience of viewing the arrival in Amsterdam (on a boat) of Saint Nicholas, Swarte Piet and the rest of the entourage on a long-ago seminar visit. I was accompanied by my friend and former colleague Audra Bowlus, who was spending the year on sabbatical in Amsterdam. Sedaris does a very fine job of capturing the strangeness of the entire enterprise.

Recommended if you really like Daivd Sedaris, but not the place to start with him.

Amazon book page
Barnes and Noble book page
I have forgotten what sale table yielded this one.

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