A Literary Survival Guide for the Holiday Season
December 4, 2018
The holiday season is upon us. For those of us situated in colder climes, what better time to curl up in a warm spot with a must-read book? Or, if seeking less solitary pursuits, what a special opportunity to reconnect with family and friends, catch up on news and views, while trying your best to avoid the strident family discord of fractious political discussions!
Of course, the holiday season also provides bountiful inspiration to creative writers, often arising out of time-honored family traditions. While “inspiration” may be the wrong noun, writers sometimes apply their craft to make a statement about the inexorable clash of rank commercialism versus deeply held religious sensibilities. For other authors, there’s the tried-and-true comfort of writing that encompasses tender reflections of family gatherings, past and present. Many authors find ample scope for humor in the foibles of this season, as in A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving (Black Swan, 1990). Still other writers turn to autobiographical contributions, such as the famous short story by Truman Capote, A Christmas Memory (Random House, 1966). A few authors write against the backdrop of deep grief lightened by irrepressible sources of laughter, as in The Birds of the Air by Alice Thomas Ellis (Duckworth, 1980). And, of course, there is always the distraction of a love and romance novel, as in We'll Always Have Christmas by Jenny Hale (Bookouture, 2017).
AWP staff have also weighed in with a few more of their own favorites, including How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss (Random House, 1957), The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats (Puffin Books, 1976), and a new edition of A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas (Holiday House, 2017). There is even a 30th anniversary edition available of The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg (HMH Books, 2015). And, if you prefer to pursue the path less followed, you might consider snuggling up with the post-apocalyptic novel Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice (ECW Press, 2018)—he’s an author from the Wasauksing First Nation in Canada. Be warned, however—his novel is more of a frightening, snowy, winter book than a traditional holiday tale.
Whatever you will be reading, writing, or debating this month, AWP takes this opportunity to wish all of our members the very best for this holiday season. We look forward to supporting you in your pursuit of a creative, productive, meaningful year ahead—one marked by your best writing, reading, editing, translating, publishing, and participating as you are led in the creative literary arts.
Chloe Schwenke, PhD
Interim Executive Director, AWP