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The Worst Noel: Hellish Holiday Tales Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (November 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060838116
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060838119
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 6.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,046,666 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

While everyone has his or her own holiday nightmare-the overcooked turkey, the undercooked ham, the Santa who drank too much, the worst gift given or received-we still love hearing about other people's disasters. Mice eating up the lovingly home-baked tree ornaments; kids dragging you through the Christmas Loft Holiday Emporium's "holiday fumes-a cross between Pine-Sol, Atomic Fireballs, and clove cigarettes"; even "the Christmas I found out I wasn't Christian"-it's all so much fun when it's happening to someone else. After reading John Marchese's saga of a "dry serial church-going" Christmas with his born-again prospective in-laws, or Cynthia Kaplan's "Jew's Christmas in Vermont" with dead deer splattered all over the family car, our own holiday problems seem more manageable. About half the stories have a Jewish slant (such as those by Valerie Frankel, Binnie Kirshenbaum and Amy Krouse Rosenthal), and all but one (Anne Giardini's depressing tale of her dying mother) play on the humor of a disastrous holiday experience. The best one-Ann Patchett's "Birthdays"-avoids the clichés (how Jews do or don't deal with Christmas, the excesses of Christmas kitsch, etc.) and tells how her stepfather mangled each of the family's Christmases. This would make a nifty gift for the Scrooge on book buyers' lists.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“Even the most resolute humbugs will laugh aloud at this riotous holiday collection written by 18 of today’s top writers.” (Marie Claire)

“A gift that keeps on giving, offering much-needed (and funny!) perspective.” (Elle.com)

“Forget the fruitcake and bring this quirky book to your holiday hosts this season.” (Chicago Tribune)

“High notes like Ann Patchett’s “Birthdays” make this a fine stocking stuffer for naughty cranks everywhere.” (Entertainment Weekly)

“An excellent anti-Christmas present for any curmudgeon.” (Ottawa Citizen)

“Perfect for those who don’t take their holidays too seriously and strongly recommended for those who do.” (Vancouver Sun)

More About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Joni Rodgers was born into a family of gospel/bluegrass performers and grew up on stage, opening for huge-haired country music legends of the 60s and 70s. She continued performing until 1994, when she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. She used the chemo downtime to complete her first two novels and went on to author, coauthor and ghostwrite more than a dozen bestselling books, both fiction and nonfiction.

Married to jet plane mechanic/wine maker Gary Rodgers since 1983, Joni is the proud mother of two fine young adults. She lives in Houston, Texas and is represented by William Morris Endeavor, New York.

"Joni Rodgers lives, loves and writes without a safety net." ~ Entertainment Weekly

"Rodgers' strength is a womanly wise, laugh-through-tears appreciation of life." ~ Publishers Weekly

Customer Reviews

This is just a stupid annoying book.
Tahoe Barb
Once you start to fall in a hole, you don't have to go the rest of the way to figure out that it isn't going to end well.
Rick Danville
It would make more sense to write about a Muslim's outlook on Christmas or a Hindu's or even an atheist's.
Charismatic Creature

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Charismatic Creature on March 23, 2006
Format: Hardcover
FIrst off, let me say that I am Jewish myself and grew up in a Catholic neighborhod, where my family was one of the only Jewish families around. So I know plenty about being the "odd girl out" during the holiday season, with many of my own humorous tales.

However, I think it is wildly misleading to label a story collection "The Worst Noel" and then have more than half the stories about Jews who either are celebrating a bogus Christmas they clearly don't believe in (for the parties and gifts) or angsting because they are stuck with the incredibly lame Festival of Hannukah, the poor stepchild of Christmas. There is certainly a place for the assimilated (or unassimilated) Jewish writers to pour forth their anguish or glee or awkwardness, but it is NOT in a book glaringly mislabeled "The Worst Noel". Maybe it's in a book that could be called "The Worst Hannukah" or "The Worst Chrismukkah".

Anyone even nominally Christian, or even non-sectarian, who picks up this book hoping to read actual funny stories about CHRISTIANS celebrating THE MOST IMPORTANT HOLIDAY OF THE YEAR is going to feel wildly cheated. After all, Jews make up roughly 1.5% of the US population (although disproportionately more of the book buying public). It would make more sense to write about a Muslim's outlook on Christmas or a Hindu's or even an atheist's.

Maybe the publisher thought a story collection called "Dysfunctional Jews At Christmastime" wouldn't sell. But this book is a cheat and misleading.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Beth Cholette #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a collection of true stories from various authors sharing some of their worst Christmas memories ever. Most of the stories, while they may have seemed sad and tragic at the time, are cast in distinctly humourous light, from "Donner is Dead," about the misfortune of a car hitting a deer, to "Birthdays," Ann Patchett's lament about those unfortunate ones who, like herself, celebrate their birthdays in December. A few of the offerings, however, are more serious and more poignant, such as Anne Giardini's "Christmas 2001," in which she describes her family's last Christmas with her mother, who is dying of cancer.

One odd thing about this book was that a good number of the stories actually feature Jews celebrating Christmas. Although a few of these are quite amusing--most notably, "The Jew Who Cooked a Ham for Christmas," about one man's quest to cook the perfect Christmas ham--they seem somewhat out-of-place in a book about Christmas stories, even bad ones. My favorite story in the book was Binnie Kirshenbaum's "The Gift of the Magi Redux," a tale of two young lovers who don't quite succeed at holiday gift-giving.

If you like the idea of this book, I recommend Maeve Binchy's fictional This Year It Will Be Different, a more compilation of fictional less-than-perfect Christmas stories.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Nancy Hannah on March 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I read a review of this book in a magazine, and thought it would be the perfect thing to help get me through hosting Christmas in my home for my dysfunctional family.

Because I don't normally purchase books except as gifts or reference items, or unless I KNOW I'll love it, I put a reserve on this book in late November at my local library.

Christmas came and went, and the book was still not available.

Wow! I thought. This book must be really great! I looked so forward to getting it and curling up with it on a cold day.

When I finally got notice from the library that the book was available, I rushed to get it, and started in on it during a long car trip. (You know a book is bad when it makes a long car trip seem longer.)

This book is full of such neurotic, pathetic whining and overblown, uninteresting angst, that I actually felt ripped off - and I got the book for FREE from the library.

If I had actually spent anything other than time and gas money to obtain this book, I would have done whatever necessary - including demanding my money back from whereever I had purchased it, AND asking for an apology from the editor who compiled this little compendium of holiday drivel - in order to feel remotely satisfied with the experience.

I have never done an online review of a book I have read. This book, however, is so horrifically-bad, that I feel compelled to save even ONE person from having to read this dreck.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Work Blows on December 12, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I received this book from a good friend who knows how I LOVE the Christmas season. It's better than Rxs to pick-up your spirit! Definately not in the league of "It's A Wonderful Life" - THANK GOD! Great short stories to get you moving when your down. My favorite author was Cintra Wilson. I may have to buy copies for friends because I may make reading this book an annual tradition!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By D. Brand on December 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I don't why this book has received so many poor reviews. I laughed (hard) all the way through. Perhaps the other reviewers were expecting endearing tales about minor holiday mishaps a la "A Christmas Story," all with heartwarming endings that remind them of their own best holidays--or at least make them forget about their worst ones. In that case, oh well. The essays aren't sentimental, but they're honest and even funnier for that. The essay by John Marchese about meeting his future in-laws on Christmas is hysterical. And Ann Patchett's tale of a blended family's Christmas is pretty funny--in a darkish way--because it's real.

As for those who complained about Jews writing about Christmas: Oh, please. Christmas is inescapable. I'm not a Christian, but I celebrate in my own secular-humanist way, and I enjoy it far more than many of my Christian friends, who seem to spend an inordinate amount of time praying for it to be over.

This book is smart, funny, and honest, and I enjoyed it so much I bought the audio book too. And it was worth it. Hearing Marchese read his own story--with all the accents--was a hoot. My cheeks were streaked with tears of laughter.
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