Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Speed Reader

By Jessica English, Sue Schuurman, Noah Masterson, Steven Robert Allen.

DECEMBER 29, 1997: 

Holidays on Ice
by David Sedaris (Little, Brown, cloth, $16.95)

I don't know whether I should shoot myself in the head, have another drink or scrawl every Christmas memory across my walls with black crayon. Or maybe just laugh it off, like David Sedaris in his slender volume of stories called Holidays on Ice. He's facetious. He's a laugh riot. He's sick sometimes. "SantaLand Diaries," one of the three previously published stories appearing in the volume, is a drop-dead deadpan story about a guy who works in Macy's SantaLand as Crumpet the Elf. His twisted, dark humor comes through in "Season's Greetings from the Dunbar Family!!!"--written as a photocopied family Christmas letter from Mrs. Dunbar, which spirals quickly from "We're so proud of Kevin!!!" to the story of her grandson's recent death in the hot wash, cold rinse wash cycle. Holidays on Ice is just what we holiday-weary suicidal maniacs need: highly deranged Christmas stories that teach us we can laugh at the really shitty stuff that happens during the holidays. Merry Christmas, losers. (JE)

Tequila Mockingbird
by Paul Bishop (Scribner, cloth, $23)

As soon as I saw that this crime novel was penned by a 20-year veteran of the LAPD, I was duped into thinking it could provide indirect insight into the notorious force plagued by police brutality, corruption and blatant racism. Homicide Detective Fey Croaker is assigned the straightforward case of the shooting death of a Romeo cop apparently by his jealous wife. But at each step in her investigation, the tough but sexy Croaker uncovers increasingly complex connections that point to rogue, ambitious cops who eliminate anyone who gets in their way. True, Bishop manages to build up enough suspense that you plow through his tired clichés ("been there, done that, got the tee-shirt") and B-movie dialogue ("they were jacked up on their sixth cup of joe") to find out if Croaker and her team can catch the bad guys. But its lack of credible plot developments prevents it from shedding any light on LAPD's inner workings. (SS)

Lucky You
by Carl Hiaasen (Knopf, cloth, $24)

When hardcore redneck Bodean Gazzer and his glue-sniffing pal known only as "Chub" purchase one of the winning tickets in the Florida lottery, they aren't content to share the $28 million jackpot with anyone else. So they concoct a plan to find the other winner--a small-town veterinary assistant named JoLayne Lucks--steal her ticket and collect the whole shebang. It's hard to go wrong with such a fascinating plot, but, while Hiaasen is always an enjoyable read, he has a tendency to get mired in political satire and to poke fun at all-too-easy targets (rednecks, religious fanatics, etc.). What should be an outrageous cat-and-mouse tale about greed, stupidity and sudden wealth is instead a morality tale tackling racism, environmentalism and every other ism you can think of. Stick to the story, Carl! (NM)

Barbary Shore
by Norman Mailer (Vintage, paper, $13)

Apparently as a tie-in with the release of Norman Mailer's latest novel, The Gospel According to the Son, a few of the author's older, more obscure works have been reprinted--Barbary Shore, his second novel, among them. When this book was originally published in the early '50s, it was panned by critics. The truth is, though, that it's not entirely bad. The prose, especially in the beginning of the book, might have the texture of a heavy, oak table, and the aim of Mailer's metaphors might not always be true, but he has created a few decent characters here. Barbary Shore, though, ultimately goes astray when it develops into a rather blunt treatise on revolutionary socialism. This is unfortunate. One can't help but think how much better this novel could have been if Mailer had simply written a story about a few troubled, anti-social losers and left the political analysis for people who actually know enough about politics to make it worth reading. (SRA)

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