’Tis the season for quick reads. So some blurbs about a few (mostly) slim pieces I’ve rolled through recently.
Being Santa Claus – Sal Lizard with Jonathan Lane
A memoir by a Christmas season Santa who does everything from standard mall Santa gigs, to private events at homes, to visiting sick kids in the hospital. It’s pretty saccharine, but Santa really shouldn’t be edgy and controversial, right?
The Reservoir Tapes – Jon McGregor
I read this not knowing it was a companion piece to a previous, larger novel by McGregor, Reservoir 13. This is filled with quick sketches of several characters that are apparently involved in the longer book. That said, it’s hardly a throw away or writing exercise. It’s really kind of brilliant. I don’t know if it would have come across any better or worse had I read the book that came before it. I’ve added Reservoir 13 to my reading list so we’ll see.
A Christmas Story – Jean Shepherd
My annual reading of the classic. L and I plan on watching the movie tonight or tomorrow.
Die Hard: An Oral History – Brian Abrams
A Kindle single that has been out a few years that I finally got to. It’s rather disappointing: no Bruce Willis, more concerned with how the movie came to be made than its actual making, etc. A good oral history has a bunch of “Oh, wow!” moments that you immediately want to tell others. This lacked those.
All These Beautiful Strangers – Elizabeth Klehfoth
Here is the one full-length book on the list, but I still raced through it in about three days. I discovered it in the Best of Indy edition of Indianapolis Monthly magazine, in a section dedicated to good reads by local writers. Klehfoth is from Elkhart, got her MFA at IU and then taught there. The blurb compared her favorably to Gillian Flynn, so I figured it was worth the read.
Set primarily at a prestigious prep school in New Hampshire, it is told through the voices of three characters: Charlie, a junior at the school; Allistair, her billionaire father; and Grace, her mother who disappeared a decade earlier without a trace. Charlie begins investigating her mother’s disappearance and slowly unfurls the truth, which eventually leads back to her father’s time at the prep school 30 years earlier.
It is taut, brisk, and entertaining. Klehfoth does violate one writing rule that I learned way back in my high school junior year creative writing class, which really kind of bugged me.
But the story is solid. It’s not quite as polished as a Gillian Flynn novel, but this was Klehfoth’s first attempt, and it was pretty solid.
I did feel a little duped. The library shelved this in the High School section. I suppose that makes sense since its main character is a high school girl. But there are some more adult scenes in it, so I’m not sure I agree with that classification. But I also probably wouldn’t have read it if I knew it was a “high school” book beforehand.