I became a fan of David Sedaris last year, and when my sister gave me this collection of holiday-themed stories and essays I jumped right in. The pieces range from ostensibly autobiographical to completely fabrcated. One may tell the fictional (not to mention absurd) tale of two rich families trying to outdo each other in attempts at hoarding more holiday spirit, and another recounts the soul-crushing time Sedaris spent employed as a Christmas Elf at Macy’s department store.
Much like with his other books, my reactions to individual pieces ranged from “meh” to shrieking laughter. Some of them did nothing for me, and at least one of them –a faux holiday newsletter from a mentally unstable Stepford Wife– turned out to be perplexingly tragic rather than funny. But on the other hand, the aforementioned story about the families competing over who can give more away was great, and the essay entitled “Six to Eight Black Men” about the ironic absurdity of Dutch Christmas traditions is one of the funniest things I’ve ever read.
My main complaint about Holidays on Ice is that it was an already short book made shorter by the fact that it contained several pieces by Sedaris that are published in other collections. I literally hit a block of these several dozen pages long towards the back, which brought the book to an unexpected (for me) end. Even still, they were worth a re-read.