Christmas Eve, and it’s time to wind down. It will be a very long time before I can fully appreciate and express my thanks for all the many generous things people did to help get Tinsel out there, but I am forever grateful to you all, and I hope to get around to thanking many people individually.
I’m tired. I’m happy about the book, and a little sad, too. Over the last several weeks I have met or heard from so many people, and listened to so many of their stories about the package of joy and confusion that is American Christmas. It’s been a real pleasure to have that conversation — with readers, with reporters and hosts in the media, and from your comments here and on Facebook, and with feedback from good and bad reviews, including the 49 and counting on Amazon. I’ve read, and will re-read, each and every one with a willingness to learn as a writer. (And also to pluck blurbs for the paperback edition!)
There is something I wanted this book to be, something specific, which I’ll deal with in my very next posting (above).
Meanwhile, I have a few more links to share, if you can stand it…
• I met Terry Mattingly, a writer whose weekly column on religion is a mainstay in several hundred newspapers, at Union Station on Monday for lunch, and we wound up talking for two hours — and I could’ve gone longer, but I had to scoot over to NPR. He put his finger on things about Tinsel that I knew intuitively but not academically or theologically. He wonders if the book might fit the definition of “humanistic existentialism.” He also came up with a perfect thesis statement for the book, based on a section title and quote from one of the characters. Without endorsing the sentiment, Terry said Tinsel‘s main message goes something like this, more or less: Fake is okay here. Fake is all we’ve got in this culture. Deal with it.
Terry’s column about Tinsel is here.
• Meredith Simons at Slate would give a hearty AMEN to Terry’s thesis statement, especially the “deal with it” part, which Meredith thinks I don’t deal with so well. I respectfully disagree, but this is just the kind of intelligent take on the book that I prefer to engage with.
• If you get The Week (not since the heyday of Reader’s Digest have downstairs toilets been so well-served, and I mean that as a sincere compliment), the current issue’s “Last Word” pages in the back of the magazine feature a very tightly-edited 2,000-word excerpt from Tinsel. I can’t find it on their web site (maybe they don’t have e-rights), so check the downstairs bathroom.
• I did NPR’s Talk of the Nation show on Monday afternoon — great questions and callers. Have a listen.
• Thanks to more than a few of you, I got some great questions at The Washington Post’s live online chat on Tuesday morning.
• The New York Times’ Thursday Styles section has an article today by Hilary Stout about people who “opt out” of Christmas once in a while. I’m interviewed midway through.
• Carol Kaufmann from AARP Bulletin‘s web site and I had a nice, long interview while I was driving from the outer Houston suburbs back to Dallas one month ago (seems like much longer!). She’s very nice and asks really smart questions, but what impresses me is how deftly she condenses this blabbermouth.
That’s it, I think, except for a lot of chatter about the book that showed up on other people’s blogs this week, which I wish I had time to link back to, or the power to resist the lure of the Google RSS alert. Thing is, I’ve got laundry and TV reviews to do. Christmas isn’t at my throat this year, but everything else is — and then, Friday morning, vacation at last.
Time for presents! Pace yourselves!