Thursday, October 18, 2018

Review of "An Off-White Christmas"

From Booklist...

An Off-White Christmas.
By Donald G. Evans
2018. 200p. illus. Eckhartz, paper, $20 (9781732349056)

While many Christmas-themed stories rely on warm-fuzzies, Evans’s debut collection evokes empathy
through his narrators’ flaws, ambitions, and heartaches. For some of them, the holidays offer time to reflect on relationships past. Planning to surprise his parents for Christmas, the gay narrator in “Almost” reconciles a recent breakup when his train is stalled five minutes from home. In “One Person’s Garbage,” a woman bids on Christmas knickknacks at an auction, recalling the childhood celebrations she hid from her liberal parents. Other characters use the holidays to consider their futures. In “Bah!” a hungover, onceaspiring actor forswears the stage, if only he can convince his director that this performance of A Christmas Carol is his last. And in the charming title story, Ma and her ne’er-do-well son, Willie, compete in finding the best deal on a Christmas tree, until the year Pa dies, when Willie has a new role to fill. Lovingly illustrated by Chicago artist Hannah Jennings, Evans’s 12 tales may not always be filled with cheer; but with light humor and tenderness, they do illuminate the human spirit.

— Jonathan Fullmer