[SS] Holidays on Ice – David Sedaris

February 6, 2010 § 9 Comments

Short Saturday: I join Mee on her journey in search of 5-star quality short stories. It’s all about the journey, she says, not the destination.

I had heard about this small collection of 6 stories over the holiday season last year, and after that, I’ve continuously read about David Sedaris. That’s when I decided to give Holidays on Ice a try, and see what Sedaris has to offer.

I don’t know if there’s much to talk about when it comes down to the individual stories in this book. They are not particularly deep or thoughtful, nor are they works of literary genius. But what Sedaris does offer, in abundance, is humour and satire, with generous splashes of sarcasm and cynicism.

For example, in his first story, SantaLand Diaries, he writes about him being an elf at SantaLand at a department store. Not particularly happy with his job, but not having a choice about it, he describes the work in such a way that it’s quite impossible to not laugh.

We were taken to the “Oh, My God, Corner,” a position near the escalator. People arriving see the long line and say “Oh, my God!” and it is an elf’s job to calm them down and explain that it will take no longer than an hour to see Santa.

The way he tells these stories can come across as harsh and a little in-your-face at times, but in a way it’s quite refreshing, because he doesn’t come across as pretentious or goody-goody, even if it is about the holidays. It’s not the usual feel-good type stories that we’ve gotten so accustomed to these days.

The most feel-good story in the lot was probably Dinah, the Christmas Whore, which from the title should already be pretty obvious that it’s not the conventional kind of story.

A couple of them were quite absurd, like Christmas Means Giving, which is a story about two families (neighbours) who try to outdo each other in ‘Christmas spirit’ and living up to the motto of “Christmas Means Giving”. They end up giving away the most ridiculous things, so far-out-there that it most certainly evokes some memory of Swift’s A Modest Proposal.

I enjoyed this book, if not for anything else, but for the wit Sedaris offered. It has a certain spark to it I think, that makes you want to laugh at some of the most inappropriate things.

Rating: 4


Note: I’ve listened in on some podcasts where David Sedaris reads from his books, or where he’s just talking. The next time I try another Sedaris, I’m thinking maybe the audiobook would be a very different experience. (He reads his own audiobooks.)


§ 9 Responses to [SS] Holidays on Ice – David Sedaris

  • Susan says:

    Micheele, I’m glad that you enjoyed this collection of short fiction. I haven’t read anything by Sedaris. I have heard good things about the audiobooks.

  • Mark David says:

    I’ve recently heard from another podcast (I think it was from NPR) that there’s just no better way to experience Sedaris than listening to his own readings. And I’ve also heard that he’s a master of satire and humor. I’m not big on comedy, not even dark comedy, but I’m willing to give this author a try one day since he does seem to be well-liked by many 🙂

    • Michelle says:

      I think that’s where I heard it as well… Which was what gave me the final kick to go out and borrow this book.

      I still think Swift’s A Modest Proposal is the best I’ve read so far, but then again, it’s a tough one to beat. =)

  • mee says:

    It sounds like my cup of tea! I’ve been wanting to try Sedaris forever, just don’t know where to start. David is right in that many people say Sedaris is a fantastic reader. This book would be great for next winter or pre-Christmas time.

  • Vishy says:

    Nice review! One of my friends had recommended ‘Holidays on Ice’ to me before and said that it was quite humorous. Will look for it.

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