Thursday, October 2, 2008
When I wrote up the AfterWords for Donna VanLiere's The Christmas Promise I did a short take listing a bunch of other Christmas titles beyond the obvious. That is, everyone knows all about Ebenezer Scrooge, but I was wondering what else might be out there. Mostly in that piece I highlighted some classic or surprising writers, but what I discovered was that sometime in the last few years the publishing of Christmas titles has become something of a major industry. It used to be that publishers might throw together a Christmas themed selection of, say, mystery stories, where instead of the butler having done it, Santa Claus is always the murderer, but that was about it, aside from children's books. Nowadays, there is a whole new genre of Christmas redemption tales for grown-ups, where the meaning of the season manages to get through not necessarily to modern day Scrooges but to average people who just need a little help of one sort or another to get their acts together. And this new genre is obviously popular, or publishers wouldn't be pushing it. And I find that curious.
Let me explain. I spend a lot (as in a lot) of time reading the latest books, and from my perspective, the latest books are the literal opposite of this sort of story. Novels today are more violent, more sexy, more weird, more everything that a Christmas story isn't. And then once a year, everything is supposed to change, and we're supposed to put down our guns and get all warm and fuzzy all of a sudden? I don't think so. Don't get me wrong. I love the charm and the values of these traditional stories. What I want to see is a little more charm and a little more of these values the rest of the year. I'm the first one around here to get misty-eyed over a sentimental tale—I like to see good things happening to nice people—and it hardly ever happens. Most of the time I have to be satisfied with, at best, the bad guys getting theirs in the end.
So, what I'm pushing for is a little Christmas spirit the rest of the year. Call me a Pollyanna, but sometimes I just want something a little light on my plate. Maybe the success of these Christmas books will point the way. Maybe publishers will see that there is room for family values year round, as well as serial killers. I hope so. Because I want to read them, and I'm going to want to pass them along to readers of Select Editions. Sounds like a winning combination to me.