Tinsel’s first review

imagesThe patented, automated self-Googler Narciss-o-Meter netted the first review of Tinsel this afternoon, in the Aug. 24 issue of Publisher’s Weekly. It’s not a wild rave, but my editor loves the phrase “the gift book that keeps on giving.” I like words such as “impeccable” and “solid.” PW reviews books way before their release date, so off we go. I promise to post whatever comes along, even if it’s a bad review. (Hmmm. Perhaps especially if it’s a bad review, so I can dissect it.)

>>Stuever, a Washington Post staff writer and two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, has appeared on The View, The Today Show and NPR with his incisive commentaries. Following Off Ramp, he returns for another heartland safari, this time to observe Christmas celebrations in Frisco, Tex. He explains: “This book takes place over three holiday seasons (2006, 2007 and 2008) among three unrelated families who live in a new megaworld north of Dallas, a place that often seemed to have surrendered its identity to the shopper within.” His seasonal survey begins with Tammie Parnell, who runs a business decorating other people’s homes. In the chapter “There Glows the Neighborhood,” he describes the “Trykoski lights,” a house decorated with 50,000 lights, and traces this holiday history back to 2004 when Carson Williams scored a million-plus Internet hits after synchronizing 16,000 lights to music. Stuever watches the 1.1 million-square-foot Stonebriar Centre mall being decorated at midnight. While single mom Caroll Cavazos shops with her family at Best Buy, the author has an epiphany (“I see it as Caroll sees it. Real lives are being lived here”), and later he goes with her to church and a potluck dinner gift-swap. With impeccable research and solid reporting, Stuever has written the gift book that keeps on giving—Christmas consumerism wrapped together with traditional family values. (release date: Nov. 12)


  1. Linda on August 25, 2009 at 8:35 am

    You went with her to “church and a potluck dinner gift-swap”? Um, and rehearsals for the over-the-top musical? And her house, like 500 times? And, like, deep into her psyche? I mean, I am totally on board with “impeccable” and “solid,” but this only skims the surface.

  2. Jolene on August 25, 2009 at 10:15 am

    Small technical glitch. Your PW logo obscures the first few lines of text.

    But congrats on the review anyway.

  3. Hank Stuever on August 25, 2009 at 10:34 am

    Jolene, it looks okay to me on both PC and Mac, using Firefox and Exploder.
    Have you updated your Java software, etc., lately?

  4. Jolene on August 25, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    I was reading this on a mobile phone, so the problem may well be on my end. Should have mentioned that in my earlier comment. Thanks for checking.

  5. Joanne on October 8, 2009 at 11:13 pm

    I just finished reading an advance copy of your book and I loved it!.
    I immediately ordered your other book just based on this one. I
    feel like I know the people in Tinsel after reading it. Do you still
    keep in touch with them? How is the recession affecting them?

    Hope you plan to write more books!

Leave a Comment