Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Laughs Are So Delightful

This time of year I like to read books that include some sort of Christmas theme. There's something magical and special about the Christmas season that I quite enjoy.

And while I enjoy serious and inspirational writing, I will, of course, regularly return to humour.

This year, I'm enjoying two different yet funny Christmas themed books.

Holidays on Ice: StoriesLast year I treated myself to Holidays on Ice, a collection of humourous essays by David Sedaris. Of course, I never got around to reading it last year so I'm enjoying it this year. (It's like a gift to myself that keeps on giving)

The book immediately caught my attention when I spotted it on display, as I hadn't previously read anything by Sedaris, but have long wanted to.  Of course, the little hard-cover languished in a large pile of "oh I've got to read this" purchases I made late last year for the longest time. I think I discovered it some time around February and then kicked myself for not having picked it up to read during the Christmas season.  Of course, I'm rather pleased with myself for reading it now, striking the Christmas-reading phase while the proverbial iron is hot.

I'm still on the first essay "Santaland Diaries" which recounts his experiences as a Macy's Santaland Elf. It contains an incredible number of humorous bits about the experience, as anyone who has worked retail at Christmas time can imagine. But here's a quick sampling of the type of observations Sedaris makes.

Then there are the multimedia families in groups, who say, "All right now, let's get a shot of Anthony, Damascus, Theresa, Doug, Amy, Paul and Vanity -- can we squeeze them all together? Santa, how about you let Doug sit on your shoulders, can we do that?"
     During these visits the children are rarely allowed to discuss their desires with Santa. They are too busy being art-directed by the parents.
     "Vanity and Damascus, look over here, no, look here."
     "Santa, can you put your arms around Amy and shake hands with Paul at the same time?"
     "That's good. That's nice."
     I have seen parents sit their child upon Santa's lap and immediately proceed to groom: combing hair, arranging a hemline, straightening a necktie. I saw a parent spray their child's hair, Santa treated as if he were a false prop made of cement, turning his head and wincing as the hair spray stung his eyes.
- Excerpt from "Santaland Diaries" - David Sedaris, Holidays on Ice
It's certainly a good book, and even though I've just begun it, I know I'm going to continue to love the rest. I've already falled into his prose and escape into the good humour of the tales as if he is sitting across a table in a coffee shop recounting them to me.

The book is out in paperback this year with a different cover (although I'm a bit partial to the cover on the HC, with it's short glass filled with ice and what appears to be a vodka drink, the snowflake speckled glass sweating so tantalizingly.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Zombies: A Book of Zombie Christmas CarolsAnd I'm also enjoying re-reading Michael P. Spradlin's It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Zombies: A Book of Zombie Christmas Carols.

The humour in this one is, as you would expect, a bit more low-brow and dark.

I read this last year, having to regular read bits aloud to Francine (careful to make sure our five year old son was not within ear-shot).  Illustrated by Jeff Weigel, it's a cute and hilarious little spoof of Christmas Carols, all to the zombie theme.

I blogged about this in detail last year (check it out for a video trailer and further ramblings from me about the book), but thought I'd share the opening of a carol sung to the tune of "Winter Wonderland"

Undead moan, are you listening?
In the lane, blood is glistening.
A horrible sight,
We're screaming tonight,
Runnin' through a Zombie wonderland.

Already turned, is our neighbor!
Zombies here, I belabor.
They moan their own song,
As we scream along,
Sprintin' through a Zombie wonderland.

- Excerpt from "Zombie Wonderland" - Michael P. Spradlin, It's Beginning To Lot a Lot Like Zombies
The book is just chok-full of morbid and delightful zombie carols, the perfect antidote for when you tire of hearing the same songs over and over again from about the end of October.  (Flipping the lyrics in your mind helps give you a new way to enjoy the same old classics)

So there you have it.  Two great ideas for humorous Christmas reading. It's not to late to nip into your local bookstore and check them out, either for yourself or as a special "stocking stuffer" treat for a loved one who needs a good laugh.

Or, if you get a gift card for your favourite bookstore for Christmas, hopefully these are two ideas that help you spend it (and will, of course, help the bookstores and publishers if any stock of these are left AFTER Christmas -- you'll also be doing YOUR part for the environment by purchasing it after Christmas, as you'll help reduce carbon footprint emissions of the books being returned to the publishers at the end of the season)

The books are also available in ebook format - has them, check them out by clicking Holidays On Ice or It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Zombies.

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