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"A Search for America's Christmas Present"

By Rich Fisher


Tulsa, Oklahoma – On this edition of our show, we speak with the author and journalist Hank Stuever, whose latest book, "Tinsel: A Search for America's Christmas Present," is just out in paperback. Stuever, who was born and raised in Oklahoma City, and who now writes about TV and pop culture for The Washington Post, will appear tonight at a Book Smart Tulsa event at Harwelden (at 2210 South Main Street in Tulsa), which begins at 7pm. It's an evening of holiday-themed readings that will also feature local author Michael Wallis and KWGS producer/host Scott Gregory. Stuever's "Tinsel" is a funny, fascinating, and at times maybe even frightening investigation into the contemporary American Christmas experience. As a reviewer in Publishers Weekly has noted: "Stuever, a Washington Post staff writer and two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, has appeared on The View, The Today Show, and NPR with his incisive commentaries. [In this book, he sets out to] observe Christmas celebrations in Frisco, Texas. He explains: 'This book takes place over three holiday seasons (2006, 2007, and 2008) among three unrelated families who live in a new megaworld north of Dallas, a place that often seemed to have surrendered its identity to the shopper within.' His seasonal survey begins with Tammie Parnell, who runs a business decorating other people's homes. In the chapter 'There Glows the Neighborhood,' he describes the Trykoski lights, a house decorated with 50,000 lights, and traces this holiday history back to 2004 when Carson Williams scored a million-plus Internet hits after synchronizing 16,000 lights to music. Stuever watches the 1.1 million-square-foot Stonebriar Centre mall being decorated at midnight. While single mom Caroll Cavazos shops with her family at Best Buy, the author has an epiphany ('I see it as Caroll sees it. Real lives are being lived here'), and later he goes with her to church and a potluck dinner gift-swap. With impeccable research and solid reporting, Stuever has written the gift book that keeps on giving --- Christmas consumerism wrapped together with traditional family values."