Steuver's portraits are at once humane, heartfelt, revealing - and very, very funny. Tinsel is a compelling tale of our half-trillion-dollar holiday, measuring what we've become against the ancient rituals of what we've always been.
©2009 Hank Stuever; (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"With impeccable research and solid reporting, Stuever has written the gift book that keeps on giving - Christmas consumerism wrapped together with traditional family values." (Publishers Weekly)
"Insightful, funny/sad, filled with poetry and despair; who better than Hank Stuever to take on the Christmas Industrial Complex with such ultimate humanity, given that he writes like an angel." (David Rakoff, author of Don't Get Too Comfortable and Fraud)
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, especially as it was a refreshing change from the usual current holiday glurge. The author seems to give an honest picture of the families he followed, treating them with respect, affection, and humor. I think he did a pretty good job of capturing, from an outsider's perspective, what we all want Christmas to be, how we try to go about making it happen, and how it can sometimes fall short of that dream. He completely nailed Stonebriar Mall, Frisco, a certain type of affluent North Texas demographic, and Canton. I laughed out loud at his description of Canton, remembering my own WTF-moment when I saw the scooter-people last time I was there. My only criticism is his seemingly hurried treatment of the last two years of the book. He really only covers a single Christmas - 2006 - and just checks in and gives us an update of the 2007 and 2008 Christmases. It's unfortunate, because he was in a unique position to thoroughly document how the changing economy impacted our attitudes between those years. I remember 2008 as the year we could no longer pretend that there wasn't something seriously wrong with the economy, and that Christmas as especially black. But I suppose it wasn't *that* kind of a book.
Ray Porter's reading was excellent. He lent a dry tone of voice to the text that seemed just right, and he gave a pretty good approximation of the Texas drawl. Most audiobook narrators seem to substitute a southern accent for Texans.
The book is interesting enough, but if there are real truths about the holiday season tucked inside I missed them.
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