Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fiction

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fiction

Article excerpt

Title: Skipping Christmas

Author: John Grisham

Data: Doubleday, 176 pages, $19.95

Review by Tom Szaroleta

Skipping Christmas is sort of like Barbra Streisand's rapid-fire version of Jingle Bells; it's all there, but it doesn't take very long to get through.

This is really a network television holiday movie waiting to happen. Cast that Everybody Loves Raymond guy as Luther Krank, the overworked businessman who figures that the $6,100 he spent on Christmas last year would be better spent on a Caribbean cruise. Add one of the women from Friends as the socialite wife who agrees to his scheme to skip Christmas -- no cards, no parties, no gifts, no tree. Throw in Tom Arnold as the control-freak neighbor who thinks Krank is passing on Christmas just to blow the neighborhood's chance at winning the town holiday decoration contest again, and you've got the makings of a fine Hallmark special.

The story is quite engaging, as Krank and his wife encounter ho-ho-holier-than-thou friends and associates who just can't believe they're skipping Christmas: the Boy Scouts who come by with the family's traditional tree; the delivery guy upset because he gets no holiday tip; the acquaintances who are put out because they have to find another Christmas Eve party to attend; the cops who don't understand why the Kranks won't spend a hundred bucks for a calendar like they did last year and the year before.

Of course, the Kranks' carefully laid plans blow up in the end when their daughter, whose Peace Corps trip abroad launches Lowell's whole plan in the first place, announces that she'll be home in 12 hours with her new fiance.

This being a holiday story, there is of course a sweet and sentimental ending, one the reader probably won't see coming.

The book is a thoroughly entertaining tale and, really, Krank has a pretty good idea. Who couldn't live without the crowded malls, the hectic rush to get everything perfect for holiday guests, the bewildering search for the perfect gift? …

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