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Download Tinsel: A Search for America’s Christmas Present Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Tinsel: A Search for America’s Christmas Present, by Hank Stuever Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (286 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Hank Stuever Narrator: Ray Porter Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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In Tinsel, Hank Stuever searches out the most outlandish cultural excesses as well as the secret beauties of modern America’s half-trillion-dollar Christmas holiday.

When Stuever’s narrative begins, he’s standing in line with the people waiting to purchase flat-screen TVs at Best Buy on Black Friday. From there he follows Tammy Parnell, the proprietor of “Two Elves with a Twist,” a company that decorates other people’s houses for Christmas; Jeff and Bridgett Trykoski, owners of that one house every town has with Christmas decorations visible from space; and single mother Caroll Cavazos, who hopes that the life-affirming moments of Christmas might overcome the struggles of the rest of the year. Steuver’s portraits are at once humane, heartfelt, revealing—and very, very funny.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Laugh-out-loud funny…Stuever’s keen eye misses very little.”

    USA Today

  • “Cultural anthropology at its most exuberant.”

    New Yorker

  • “Wry, compelling, and telling commentary on the state of giving, getting, and celebrating in the holiday season.”

    Huffington Post

  • “Fascinating…Stuever unwraps both appalling consumerism and genuine holiday spirit—sometimes in the same package—and treats the people he writes about with respect and affection, even when they’re doing things he can’t quite believe.”

    Tampa Bay Times

  • “What stands out most in Tinsel is Stuever’s genuine interest in his subjects…[His] fascination with and empathy for the human experience are abundant.”

    Minneapolis Star Tribune

  • “A nice antidote to the blizzard of obligations, expectations, and traditions that bury us at the end of each year.”

    Cleveland Plain Dealer

  • “Marvelously written and sharply observed.”

    Austin American-Statesman

  • “[Stuever’s] spot-on observations about how modern America celebrates the holiday—in all its retail madness—are satisfying and illuminating…He has a knack for keeping you engaged. His gift for ending chapters and segments with startling visual images, pithy summations, a fabulous quote or his thought of the moment creates a glide effect that makes the book difficult to put down.”

    Palm Beach Post

  • “I knew Christmas in today’s America was out of control, but had no idea just how much before reading this book…Tinsel is crammed full of data and insights that illuminate how far we’ve strayed from a family holiday to the commercial and economic abyss we have created for ourselves as a country…A snapshot of contemporary America in search of meaning.”

    San Jose Mercury News

  • “Scrupulously observed, deeply revealing, and very, very funny.”

    San Antonio Express-News

  • “With impeccable research and solid reporting, Stuever has written the gift book that keeps on giving—Christmas consumerism wrapped together with traditional family values.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • 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.”

    Amazon.com, editorial review

  • “Stuever also offers up a fascinating history of how Christmas has evolved across cultures…A sometimes hilarious, sometimes cynical, but always heartfelt look at the meaning of Christmas to Americans. Completely wonderful.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “An utterly charming yet sobering profile of the music, traditions, money, pressure, and sheer nuttiness of the city’s seasonal celebration…Stuever is part sociologist, part psychologist and always a perceptive observer, placing American holiday rituals in a new light. ‘Our sense of Christmas is nothing without the narrative of heartbreaking need,’ he writes. ‘Mary needed a place to give birth and nobody would give her one. This need for need exists so that our children can distinguish it from the concept of want.’”

    BookPage

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Rebecca | 2/13/2014

    " Man, I am sort of on a roll with books I enjoyed! This book was a review on Christmas in this country. Like certain social networking sites, just because I am not a part of the fiesta, doesn't mean I am not interested in why other people are. The author picked an excellent town to review, an up and coming rich-ish suburb of DFW in Texas. He ended up reviewing 3 different types of families over 2006, 7 and 8 and while he didn't focus too much on the downturn that was 2008, it was still an excellent read. One family are just a couple, but they love Christmas so much the husband puts on one of those crazy light shows that people drive for miles to see. I loved those as a kid, so I liked their story a lot. The other was a "typical" family and the mother loves Christmas and for most of the year she is just pretty much a housewife, during the hols, she charges people to decorate their houses. NUTS! The third family is a single mother raising her 2 kids and she is very religious and participates in a "mega" church of sorts. All these people were interesting and I like reading about other cultures that I have been too and essentially live with, but I don't know much about. One thing that was interesting is how much money people spend on gifts. I guess I am out of the loop and it's my culture and everything and we actually talked about this over the hols, is that my parents never felt joy in giving us gifts. It was always a "chore" for them. But it's interesting to read about it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Cynthia | 2/9/2014

    " The author spent three Christmas seasons in Frisco, Texas with three different families. He does tell what a Christmas in middle-class Texas is like Iand upper middle class.) Reminded me so much of home with the fake snow, lots and lots of lights and shopping. Bonus: a friend of mine is mentioned in the book, she didn't even know she was in it! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Reese | 2/2/2014

    " Funny. More of a look at suburban-America than Christmas, but still very enjoyable. I really liked Hank Stuever's style. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Sara | 1/22/2014

    " Really fascinating and entertaining. I thought I would feel superior to these people, but he wrote it in such a way that I was just involved in their challenges. "

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About the Author
Author Hank Stuever

Hank Stuever is an award-winning pop-culture writer for the style section of the Washington Post. He is the author of Off Ramp, an essay collection, and has appeared on The Today Show, The View, The Early Show,and National Public Radio.