Reading, for me, is entertainment and an escape from the real world. But it can also inform and stretch the boundaries of the life I live.
REREAD: I decided to revisit this audiobook as a kickoff to this year's Christmas season. It is still interesting as an exploration of our modern approach to Christmas, and as a snapshot of pre-recession to early recession Christmas retail and economics. It's of particular interest to me, of course, as it is set in Frisco, Texas, which is my near neighbor here in the Dallas suburbs. On the second listen, I've upgraded my assessment of Ray Porter's performance: it's near genius, and it makes this book.
Original review from 12/23/2012:
Review of the audiobook from Audible. 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. No, I don't think those attitudes are mutually exclusive. 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.