Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Table of Contents: Tinsel - A Search for America's Christmas Present

Author: Hank Stuever
Publisher/Year: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009
Synopsis: Hank Stuever turns his unerring eye for the idiosyncrasies of modern life to Frisco, Texas, a suburb at once all-American and completely itself, to tell the story of the nation’s most over-the-top celebration: Christmas. Stuever starts the narrative as so many start the Christmas season: standing in line with the people waiting to purchase flat-screen TVs on Black Friday. From there he follows three of Frisco's true holiday believers as they navigate through the Nativity and all its attendant crises. Tammie Parnell, an eternally optimistic suburban mom, is the proprietor of "Two Elves with a Twist," a company that decorates other people's big houses for Christmas. Jeff and Bridgette Trykoski own that house every town has: the one with the visible-from-space, most awe-inspiring Christmas lights. And single mother Caroll Cavazos just hopes that the life-affirming moments of Christmas might overcome the struggles of the rest of the year. Stuever's portraits of this happy, megachurchy, shopariffic community are at once humane, heartfelt, revealing – and very funny.

What Others Have To Say:

Seattle Times
"an uneven but hilariously entertaining account about our Christmas culture."

Mercury News
"well worth reading, but it's a coin toss whether those who do so will find it funny or sad."

Entertainment Weekly
"While he occasionally lapses into bewildered snark, overcome by all those megastores and megachurches, he still manages to find the heart in his characters' obsessive consumerism."

Curtis Sittenfeld, Author
"In this dazzling feat of reportage, Hank Stuever gets at what's best and worst not just about Christmas but about us as Americans. Hilarious, insightful, compassionate, and hugely entertaining, Tinsel is a gift (holiday or otherwise) to anyone who loves great writing."

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