In Tinsel, Hank Stuever turns his unerring eye for the idiosyncrasies of modern life to Frisco, Texasa suburb at once all-American and completely itselfto tell the story of the nation’s most over-the-top celebration: Christmas.
Stuever’s tale begins on the blissful easy-credit dawn of Black Friday, as he jostles for bargains among the crowds at the big-box stores. From there he follows Frisco’s true believers as they navigate through three years of holiday drama. Tammie Parnell is the proprietor of Two Elves with a Twist,” a company that decks the halls of other people’s McMansions. Jeff and Bridgette Trykoski spend eleven months preparing the visible-from-space, awe-inspiring light display they stage on their lawn each December. And single mother Caroll Cavazos, a devout churchgoer, hopes that the life-affirming moments of the season can transcend her everyday struggles. Tinsel is a humane, revealing, and very funny portrait of one community’s quest to discover a more perfect holiday amidst the frenzied, mega-churchy, shoparific world of Christmas.
This is the consummate "Young Writer Discovers Middle America" book (or rediscovers, given that Stuever appears to be from Oklahoma, poor guy). By and large Stuever pulls it off, in part because he eschews (most) condescension and embraces these happy, bustling Christianized Texans for what they really are, not what he thinks they ought to be.