Tinsel is getting good press — and I’m grateful, even if I’ve been slow to get it posted up here. So I’m spending part of this sunny Sunday making a round-up of the last several days of my media hype machine. It’s getting harder and harder to get MSM attention for a book, but my luck is holding out, and I’m even getting notice from some non-MSM. Whether any of it makes a whit of difference in actual number of books sold remains (as always) to be seen. …
I am elated about this Laura Miller review in Salon. I’ve long admired her book reviews (and no, I don’t know her) and I’m so glad that she liked the book and got it exactly. I’ll be keeping this review handy for the inevitable day when I’m feeling low about the whole endeavor, which should come any minute now. I especially like the opening:
Every year, Christmas is directly responsible for some of the worst books to cross a reviewer’s desk: stale, overfrosted sugar cookies loaded with the literary equivalent of artificial coloring and high-fructose corn syrup. But now all is forgiven because the season has inspired Hank Stuever to write “Tinsel: A Search for America’s Christmas Present,” a portrait of the holiday as it’s celebrated in the booming Dallas exurb of Frisco, Texas. A delicately calibrated combination of rigorous reporting, observational humor and old-fashioned empathy, “Tinsel” is the book that saved Christmas for this curmudgeon.
Another goody: Here’s Robert Smith’s story on the book that ran on All Things Considered on NPR Saturday (Nov. 28). I had a great time with Robert and producer Alice Winkler at Tyson’s Corner Center taping this piece a couple of weeks ago. And here’s a picture of Robert and me visiting the Tyson’s Santa Claus that day. This particular Santa is quite popular, and has been there every Christmas for many years. Last year he lost his job when the mall changed photo vendors and there was a huge outcry and protest. He’s back. (And he’s not afraid of speaking out. While Robert and I sat there and talked to him, he reminded us that “God gave his only son to mankind,” “the ultimate gift,” and other evangelical yada-yada, which I think is sort of a no-no for secular mall Santas, but there it is. Happy Holidays and Merry CHRIST-mas!)
Speaking of radio, I had a great time appearing the other morning on the Joy Cardin show on Wisconsin Public Radio. No, readers, I wasn’t actually in Milwaukee; I talked to them from the Post‘s extremely handy radio studio.
I’ve been quoted in a few stories, like this one from the Deseret News, about the holiday season and buy-buy-buy and commercialism. Economist/author Joel Waldfogel (author of Scroogenomics) and I seem to be destined to appear in a lot of stories together.
(Disturbing print trend, if you’ll notice, and more fodder for the “death of copyediting” files: I seem to be able to get my name spelled right in the first reference — it’s Stuever –but soon enough I become “Steuver” on second references and in photo captions. I had journalism profs who would flunk people for this, but I am not in the business of handing out F’s to anyone giving my book a shred of publicity. I’ve spelled my name to everyone I talk to, and gave some of these writers the only handy way to remember how to spell it that I’ve been able to come up with, besides spending beaucoup money on a web site with my accurately-spelled name splayed all over it AND having that linked from inaccurately-spelled Google searches. Anyhow, here is a surefire method to remember how to spell my name: You want “ever” to be in it. Like forever. And however, and whatever. STU-EVER. But you don’t want to say it like that. TV and radio people always ask how to pronounce it, since they generally want to take it in the “Stoyver” direction. It’s Stooooover. “It rhymes with J. Edgar Hoover” I say.)
Jeff Baker gets my name right and then some in the Oregonian. Nice piece, which ran in plenty of time to interest people in my Powell’s reading there on Friday, Dec. 4.
And I liked reading columnist, “storyteller, writer and central Ohio supply preacher” Jeff Gill’s thoughts in the Newark Advocate.
Also a nice little story in the Oklahoma Gazette, the alt-weekly in OKC, which makes mention of my ancient history: I was the unpaid summer intern at the Gazette in 1988. Fond memories of Randy Splaingard and Ken “Dee Dee LeDeux” Siens and the drunken night known as the “Best of OKC” issue party, held at that old rock n’roll sushi bar over on May Avenue. What was that place called?
Some more making the Yuletide gay-ness from Pink magazine (click on the dude to get a PDF version of the magazine). And in a whole other demographic, here’s Brit Mott’s story from Plano Profile magazine, including a nice picture taken at their offices/studio in October.
Finally, and mostly, if you’re in Dallas (and not thoroughly sick of me) you must pick up the December issue of D, which has a big excerpt from the book and features an amazing portrait of Tammie Parnell in her family room with heaps of Christmas finery and regalia, photographed by Misty Keasler. The excerpt is mostly about Tammie — I took some 20,000 words of the Tammie parts of the book and winnowed them down into just a taste (5,000 words) about Tammie’s world of Christmas decorating and what it means to her. Tim Rogers and his staff are a bunch of super smarties, and I’ve enjoyed getting to work with them. I’ve also enjoyed meeting them a time or two at the Old Monk for their customary cocktail hour.
The excerpt appears only in the print edition, but here’s an outtake from the photo session that Misty sent to Tammie and Tammie sent to me — it’s Tammie and her dog, Toby. If that won’t put you in a Tinsel-y holiday mood, whatever will?