Holiday Season

Overview

Simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking, The Holiday Season and its companion piece, Love at the End of the Year are tender ruminations on the nature of family, the power of love, and a particularly complicated time of year.  In The Holiday Season, Jeff, Ted, and Frank Posey are still trying to figure out how to be a family three years after the death of the wife and mother who bound them together. As the year winds to a close and the holidays threaten to unearth the usual myriad of emotions and memories,...

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The Holiday Season

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Overview

Simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking, The Holiday Season and its companion piece, Love at the End of the Year are tender ruminations on the nature of family, the power of love, and a particularly complicated time of year.  In The Holiday Season, Jeff, Ted, and Frank Posey are still trying to figure out how to be a family three years after the death of the wife and mother who bound them together. As the year winds to a close and the holidays threaten to unearth the usual myriad of emotions and memories, hairline fractures in the Poseys’ relationships finally splinter and crack over what should be, but never are, simple dilemmas: where to spend the holidays and when it is finally time to break with old traditions. The second novella, Love at the End of the Year, is an intoxicating tale that weighs up love in all its many forms over the course of a single, magical Alabama New Year’s Eve.

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Editorial Reviews

Floyd Skloot
There is a long tradition of fiction using holiday gatherings as a vehicle for examining relationships under stress. Richard Bausch recently used Thanksgiving this way; Truman Capote, Charles Dickens, Dylan Thomas all used Christmas. Michael Knight's Holiday Season joins this crowded table and, especially in its title piece, makes itself at home.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

In "The Holiday Season," the stronger of the two novellas with which Knight follows up Goodnight, Nobody, everyman narrator Frank Posey reminisces about the first winter of the new millennium. His father, Jeff, still struggling to regain a sense of normalcy after the death of his wife, refuses to spend Thanksgiving at the picture-perfect home of Frank's elder brother, Ted. As the story progresses from Thanksgiving dinner to Christmastime, Frank humorously struggles with his sense of self while attempting to mediate between the two men, both of whom who consider him a disappointment. The collection then segues to the second novella and New Year's Eve, where a series of interrelated characters ruminate movingly on love and loss. (Nov.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

The introduction for these two novellas is a quote from Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale: "A sad tale's best for winter." And true enough, both of these stories by an award-winning author (Divining Rod) are tinged with small tragedies. In "The Holiday Season," Frank is visiting his father, once a vibrant local politician who has become increasingly distant since Frank's mother died three years ago. A vivacious French neighbor may help change that, if Frank can get his father out of the house. "Love at the End of the Year" follows a motley cast of characters on New Year's Eve, from Internet porn-obsessed teen Evan to unhappy wife Katie to unfulfilled serial dater Esmerelda. Not your typical holiday fare, this well-written volume would do well in larger fiction collections or where literary fiction is popular.


—Rebecca Vnuk
Kirkus Reviews
In two novellas that somehow manage to be both precious and dull, Knight (Goodnight, Nobody, 2003, etc.) offers scenes of mildly dysfunctional domesticity. The first novella, The Holiday Season, is set in Alabama in the 1990s. The Posey men-Dad, Frank, Ted-are floundering. Mom's died, and they're witless. Dad nurses the wound of his failed run for Congress while starting his drinking earlier each day. Frank shrugs off dreams of stardom by settling for journeyman work in Shakespeare Express, a Bard's "Greatest Hits" package that tours schools. Only Ted seems to thrive, with beautiful wife Marcy, twin daughters and suburban bliss. And Frank's eaten up by unacknowledged, condescending envy. When the twins get dream gifts for Christmas, he chafes: "I kept feeling one stop removed from everything or like maybe all this was a set, the ponies and the girls and Ted." The story brings the family, predictably, more misery as they stagnate in a bog of ambivalence-about-life. Dad is tempted by the French neighbor next door; Frank fantasizes about Marcy; Ted longs for Dad's approval (even though he's not sure it's withheld). The brothers attempt strained conversation. And on and on it goes. The second novella, Love at the End of the Year, is somewhat better, mainly because its families are more colorfully creepy, what with 12-year-old Evan Butter "masturbating pretty much nonstop" and Mom threatening Dad with divorce while they're getting lost on their way to a New Year's party. Whether it's Kevin and Urqhardt, the obligatory gay couple, teenaged Lulu Fountain, love struck by an older, callous boy, Ike Tiptoe, or sad-eyed Stella, mooning after her ex-husband Boyd, the characters are simultaneouslywhimsical and too-literary. Family life is dicey. Tolstoy turned that truism into opera; Knight makes it Muzak. Agent: J. Warren Frazier/John Hawkins & Associates
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802143891
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/1/2008
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 4.70 (w) x 7.20 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Knight
Michael Knight

Michael Knight, Senior Curator of Chinese Art and Deputy Director for Strategic Programs and Partnerships at the Asian Art Museum, is author or co-author of many books, including Power and Glory: Court Arts of China's Ming Dynasty, Later Chinese Jades: Ming DynastyûEarly Twentieth Century, and The Monumental Landscapes of Li Huayi.

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