Jen Mann * Ballantine Books * October 13, 2015 * 224 Pages
I read People I Want to Punch in the Throat: Competitive Crafters, Drop-Off Despots, and Other Suburban Scourges last year and really enjoyed it. That book was a bit rambling at points–and there were a couple of dud essays in there–but it did make me laugh. So I figured I would like the Spending the Holidays version, too. My only worry was that the one-note holiday theme would get old after the first few essays…
Far from being boring or predictable, however, Spending the Holidays with People I Want to Punch in the Throat is actually BETTER than the original. Mann is definitely still clever, caustic, honest, and FUNNY. But I think she takes things to the next level in this one. She has really mastered the short story format. Her writing is tight, creative, and well-edited–no meandering or repetition. She packs the maximum amount of funny into the fewest words, and many of these essays are downright hilarious.
I love “You Can Keep Your Cookies, I’m Just Here for the Booze.” I can completely relate: I was always the only person in my family who didn’t care for my grandma’s special holiday cookies, and this still baffles me.
Two more of my favorite essays are “Annual Christmas Letters: The Art of the Humblebrag” and “Suburban Mom’s Endless Christmas Conversation Loop” As my kids get older, I have more opportunities to run into these ever-competitive and overachieving parents (mothers, especially). It can be INTENSE interacting with these people, and it sure is nice to know I’m not the only one out there who thinks this weird kid/life/exercise/organic eating/oil pulling braggy stuff can be a bit…much.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It’s a quick, light read–easy to knock out all at once or in multiple sittings. If you’ve read and liked her other books, you will definitely want to read this one, too.