My sister gave me an NPR compilation CD for Christmas last year, and I was intrigued since I never listen to NPR, my sister knew this, and still she got that CD for me. I started listening to the little stories and they were all so good. By far the best recording was an extremely funny story called “SantaLand Dairies” read by the author David Sedaris. I had never heard of him before and the end of the recording mentioned his book by name.
I went out and bought two of this little gem, one for me and one for my sister to give her next Christmas. The Christmas I gave her the book we took turns reading to each other from it. It really got us into the Christmas spirit better than when Grandma would prolong the inevitable gift opening by reading about a long eared donkey that carried Mary before she gave birth to Jesus. A new Christmas tradition was born by reading part of one of the stories from this book, only after we opened our gifts.
The characters in David’s stories are so real. In a few pages, he creates people you can enthusiastically hate or completely relate to. That’s the best part. There’s always so much I can relate to. Working retail right before Christmas, getting days off from school because of a snow delay, watching a poorly acted elementary school pageant. And they’re all so funny.
There are one of two dud stories, but a dud by David is still far better than a lot of other comedy fiction I’ve read. His best story is “SantaLand Diaries” which had so much more detail than the recording I fell in love with. The next best story is called “Us and Them” about a family that moves next door to David, but they don’t believe in watching TV. He remarks about how odd it is they seem to like talking to each other at dinner and they go on fishing trips on the weekends. The best part of the story is when the neighbors show up on Nov. 1st to trick or treat because they were out of town on a trip for Halloween, and now David and his sisters must give the neighbor kids some of their hard earned candy. Reading how David must decide which candy to give up and eventually how his mother must intervene are hilarious.
David is a master at taking his seeming innocent point of view narration and turning it into the twist of the stories. I look forward to reading more of his books now that I have discovered he wrote more than this one.