Genre: Literary Fiction
Overall Rating: 4/5
Holidays on Ice is a book that consists of six short stories by David Sedaris. As the title implies, these are all holiday-related stories (around Christmas time). These stories are meant to be rather humorous, for the most part, but some are dark and satirical. Throughout, many of the stories are meant to be told by Sedaris himself, while only two or so are made-up characters. The voice for all of them (in which there is a male character telling the story) is very pompous and one phrase will come to your mind: ass hole (sorry, but that is the tone)!
(Below is the traditional cover, above is the comic alternative cover).
The first story in the book is probably his most well-known short story: “The SantaLand Diaries.” Many professors use this in college. I have read it twice in college and once for leisure. It is a very funny but crude story about David and his time working as an elf in Macy’s SantaLand in New York. He talks about all the horrible things he has to endure in that kind of line of work, from cleaning up puke to having to deal with people wanting a white Santa or a Black Santa. Overall, this one is funny, relateable, and a must-read.
The second story is called “Season’s Greetings to Our Friends and Family!!!” This one features the mother of the Dunbar family and her husband’s Vietnamese bastard daughter that arrives on their doorstep near Thanksgiving at the age of twenty-two. She acts as if she doesn’t understand English when something comes up that she doesn’t want to do, but if it’s in her favor, she’s all game. So when Mrs. Dunbar tells her Vietnamese bastard daughter to watch her real daughter’s baby while she goes Christmas shopping, a very unexpected thing happens when she arrives home from her outing. I would suggest reading this one as well, but the end of the story was very intense for me. The twist was literally jaw-dropping. As I read what happened when the mother came home, I heard myself saying “Oh my….G-” and my jaw just fell open for a few moments. Keep in mind, this one is a satire. It stats off kind of humorous, but it goes into some very dark material.
The third story is called “Dinah, The Christmas Whore,” which features David going out into the sketchy part of town with his sister, where he finds that his sister’s friend is a whore. I actually don’t have much to say about this one except that the title gave me high hopes for comedy, but it was actually a pretty bland story. Don’t read this one.
The fourth story is the shortest and it’s called “Front Row Center with Thaddeus Bristol.” This one goes on about all the different productions schools put on during the holidays, and turns those heartfelt, practiced productions into jokes. I would also say this can be skipped.
The fifth story is called “Based Upon a True Story.” This story features a man who comes into a church saying he is filling in for the reverend. He begins the sermon, relating stories of Christmas’s past, and he tells an interesting story about a woman who cut out her own kidney on the street and transplanted it to her son, on the street. She wouldn’t give details about how she did it, but the man says if the members of the church can get her to tell the details, they get some amazing stuff (and money), but if they don’t, well, you’ll have to read to see what happens. This one starts off kind of slow, but it is definitely one that should be read. It’s unique.
Last but not least, the sixth story is called “Christmas Means Giving.” I would say this one is a satire as well. It starts off with these two feuding families always trying to win the favor of the best greeting cards by showing how much they can give (to charities, etc.). Eventually this leads to giving away their own body parts, and if you think that’s extreme, it gets even more crazy! This one is also a very interesting must read.
So now that you know which of the stories to read and which are avoidable, pick up this book for some holiday humor on the dark side!