7 anti-festive reads from Tammy Cohen
by Tammy Cohen
At this time of year, everything – from Brazil nuts to television adverts – comes sugar-coated. When I wrote Dying for Christmas, a story about a naïve young woman held hostage by a charming psychopath over the festive period, it was partly intended as an antidote to the cultural sweet-fest the holiday season has become.
If anyone else is feeling they’ve been schmaltz-bombed, these anti-festive reads might help restore the balance…
7 anti-Christmas reads:
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Ghosts, miserly old men, innocent dying boys, poverty, loneliness, death. Dickens’s celebrated festive tale has it all. Oh, and lost love and workhouses to boot.
After all, ’tis the season to be jolly… miserable.
Santaland Diaries by David Sedaris
The title story of this festively themed collection relates to Sedaris’s stint as Crumpet the Christmas Elf in Macy’s department store. In the story, he is forced to wear a green velvet costume and listen to people yelling at their kids (‘get on that man’s lap or I’ll give you something to cry about’). When customers threaten to have him fired, which they do regularly, his unspoken riposte is ‘and I’m going to have you killed’. Ho, ho, ho.
Skipping Christmas by John Grisham
When the Kranks decide to give Christmas and all its attendant commercialism a miss and go on a Caribbean cruise instead, they reckon without the angry backlash from family and community. Hell hath no fury like a neighbourhood where the ‘best decorated’ prize hangs in the balance…
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr Seuss
Before Jim Carrey turned it into a film, How the Grinch Stole Christmas was a children’s story about a bitter, bad-tempered creature with a heart two sizes too small (any resemblance to politicians living or dead is purely coincidental). Living in a cave above a town, the Grinch is so annoyed by the townspeople’s festive joy that he tries to ruin it by nicking their Christmas tree and presents.
The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore
When Joshua sees Santa, or someone who looks very much like Santa, getting whacked over the head, his one wish is for Father Christmas to be brought back to life. The good news: a passing angel decides to grant his wish. The bad news: the angel in question is one cracker short of a full box. Let the ineptitude begin!
101 Dalmatians by Dodie Smith
Nothing says Christmas quite like a fur coat made from real dogs. But luckily for the ninety-seven puppies kidnapped by the evil Cruella de Vil and destined to end up a staple item in a rich woman’s winter wardrobe, Pongo and Missis arrive the day before Christmas Eve to mount a daring rescue. But will they succeed…?
Hogfather by Terry Pratchett
The Hogfather is a kind of Father Christmas figure who grants children’s wishes on Hogswatchnight (Dec 32). In the 21st Discworld novel, the Hogfather is threatened by forces who insist people should only believe in things that are real, so Death covers for him, dressing in a red robe with beard and saying ‘ho ho ho’ a lot. But the problem with Death is he takes things very literally, and the children would be well advised to listen to the old adage: be careful what you wish for.