Wyoming Arts Council

Holiday reading, anyone?

I’ve been reading this holiday season, in between a couple bouts of shopping and lots of making. It seems there’s always books that come out with the holiday theme, and three I picked up for gifts but have read, am still reading, before I give them away are Stephen King’s new mammoth, Under the Dome, David Sedaris’s re-released story collection, Holidays on Ice, and Wally Lamb’s Wishin’ and Hopin’: A Christmas Story. My penchant for reading books released at the holidays with holiday theme began a few years back with Grisham’s Skipping Christmas. This book was then made into a dreadful holiday movie consisting of silly tricks that didn’t hold muster with the story. King’s new one is definitely movie-worthy.

I dove into King’s first, thinking I’d have to burn reading rubber to get done with it before Christmas. It ended up taking me only about five days. If you enjoy crushing mayhem and a short survivor list, this is a novel you oughta get. At 1074 pages, its physical and fictional girth will keep you in your reading chair no matter what kind of Christmas merry making or fighting is going on around you. It’s quintessential King, with psychic phenomenon between dogs, people and aliens, lots of gushing blood even if from a chip on the head, extraordinary circumstances and people being killed from the very beginning. If you like Stephen King books, you’ll love this one, although I felt it could have ended some sooner, or taken some scenes out here and there–there are some “aw, come on,” reader moments. I was wrung out by the end, but got a couple of good written pages during the afterglow. I’m just glad to have gotten through it in one piece. You can feel the experimentation King was up to that he talks about in his autor’s note at the end of the book. Oddly, the edition has a few typos, the bulk of them after page 955.

Any of you familiar with Sedaris’s stories know that this re-released collection of stories, with a few new ones added, will be anything but “traditional,” but then that’s what we love about him. I haven’t finished this one yet, and hadn’t read it when it was first released in 1997, so it’s a treat without the warm and fuzzy sitting-by-the-fire-drinking-hot-chocolate-looking-at-the-pretty-tree feeling. Go with David as he recounts his days as an elf for Macy’s in New York City; as he tells the story of the Dunbars as a Christmas letter that becomes an appeal from Mrs. Dunbar for her true friends to become character witnesses in court; and kids’ Christmas plays the nation over that stagger with enthusiastic lack of all talent.
I’ll let you know about Lamb’s. Are books that have been bought as presents, read before given, then wrapped and bowed considered regifting? I think this is the only gift item that could be considered not. And I’m not just saying that because I’m doing it! Merry Christmas!
If you’re so inclined, email me and let me know what you’re reading this season. If I get a list, I’ll publish it here.
Linda Coatney

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