Santa Needs More Magic

SantacoverIt’s that time of year when I look forward to reading a good ole sappy Christmas story to get me in the mood.  This year I chose “The Autobiography of Santa Claus” by Jeff Guinn, based on its description as a fictionalized history of Saint Nicholas and how the various legends of Santa got their start.  It began with promise.  Santa, recounting his life in his own words, instructs the reader, “You’re right to believe in me.”  He goes on to describe the events of his life starting from a young boy around 280AD in Lycea, Turkey, when he first learns the joy of giving gifts to the poor.  The story continues as he becomes a Bishop, (donning the classic red with white trim gown), and spreads his mission of leaving anonymous gifts.  Along the way, Nicholas acquires some paranormal powers: he doesn’t age, and he can travel twice the speed of normal humans.  So, over the ages he meets with number of famous military leaders, artists, explorers, and writers in a sort of Forrest Gump-like fashion, and by inserting himself in some instances, changes the course of events.  We are treated to his encounters with Charlemagne, Marco Polo, Columbus, Leonardo di Vinci, Charles Dickens, and Teddy Roosevelt to name a few.  Santa also collects an entourage of helpers to include some unlikely characters such as Attila the Hun and King Arthur.  Despite the travels and historical encounters, the story is flat.  Great portions of it merely tell  of historical events in Santa’s voice, and with barely disguised opinions about the outcomes.  These portions were so long and tedious that I nearly put the book down and gave up.  On a positive note, there are fun little Christmas facts interspersed about how traditions such as carols, the name Santa Claus, Teddy bears, and Christmas trees came into being.  And, he also gives writers a great deal of credit for the spread of the Santa legend.  Overall, I was very disappointed with the heavy-handed history lessons, which made me want to run back and re-read “Lies My Teacher Told Me” because I suspect much of the history was as legendary as Santa himself.  The story was a great concept that missed the mark.  It could have been clever and witty by having Santa inserted into all types of historical settings with a crazy cast of characters, and instead it was dull at best, preachy at its worst.  Looking for an uplifting Christmas story, the skip this one for sure.  ClassicSanta


Filed under Book Review

3 responses to “Santa Needs More Magic

  1. Chris Sullivan

    I am not quite sure what is worse, a book that starts well but then becomes tedious and boring as one reads on. Or where a book starts badly but having decided to stick with it, the book becomes a great read.

  2. Or, starts badly and only gets worse…but you’ve already invested so much time you see it through to the end. 😦

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