Hi kids!

I have for you today NOT a picture of local wildlife, NOT a picture of my dog, NOT a rant on baseball (although I COULD HAVE ranted on what I’m now calling That Hot Mess of a Jeter Negosh. Yes, negosh. Deal with my trendy word.) today I bring you a High Quality Rant.

Okay, a mediocre quality rant.

Well, it’s a rant.

I’ve worked at my local liberry (mmmm, liberries.)  for nearly 4 full years. Three years and 11 months to be exact. Before I worked at the library I was a pretty good reader of books. I usually went to the ‘brary once or twice a month and would check out books I like to read, never noticing that there were tons of books I never noticed. Now that I work at the library I notice pretty much all the books that come in, even the ones I’m not interested in, and even the ones that four years ago I never would have noticed at all because they are NOT “my” books. I’m looking at you, Christian fiction and self-help schlock.

But there was one genre of book I had never heard of until this job. A genre so foul, so marketable, so condescending, so simple, so evil, so fake, so contrived, so banal, so pandering, so mind-numbingly full of shit, so it’s like the Monkees of genre fiction, and no, I’m not talking about vampire fiction, and yes, I too like the Monkees but you know what I’m saying: the overproduced-easy-to-swallow-bubble-gum-cheese?

Is Christmas fiction. (see also: The Amish Fiction Rant I Haven’t Written Yet.)(oh, but it’s coming. stay tuned.)

Yeah, that’s a thing. And if you don’t know about it count yourself blessed. And if you do know about it, let’s take a moment to silently eye-roll our judgment upon this pox of the fiction world. And if you read it? God help you.

I am not a bah-humbug, okay? I enjoy holidays. I enjoy Christmas songs. I’m not a Christmas hater. Do I think the holiday has been bastardized into a huge commercial for to make the moneyz? Yes, of course. But do I let that ruin my holiday? Nay. I’m very chill.

But this Christmas fiction? This is some bullshit.

It’s basically this: Some Kind of Drama + Christmas = $

And usually? IT INVOLES A BIRTH. GET IT. DO YOU GET IT? ARE YOU SURE? Also, lots of single parents raising kids, people bitter about the holidays, orphans, have i left out any cliched themes? I’m specifically talking  about Donna VanLiere’s oeuvre, and don’t worry, I’m throwing Debbie Macomber under the bus here too. In fact, VanLiere is what it is. 90% of her books are Christmas books, so whatever, at least she owns it.

But Debbie Macomber, oh my gosh. It’s not enough that she keeps spitting out books with addresses for titles, (“It’s a series!” you say. “Shit’s weak!” I retort.) but every year she’s getting in on the sweet, sweet, worn-plot Christmas book as well as her tired, beach books.

This is not to say that Macomber and VanLiere aren’t nice ladies. They are probably the sweetest people you ever met, okay?

But treacle is treacle.

And? I’ll tell you how tired this gets. Macomber came out with a Christmas book two years ago called A Cedar Cove Christmas. This is from the Publishers Weekly review (ganked from Amazon)

Mary Jo Wyse, the protagonist of this trite little throwaway, is extremely pregnant. She sets out for Cedar Cove on Christmas Eve to hunt down her child’s delinquent dad, David. Hot on her trail are her three overprotective brothers (the three Wyse men—get it?), determined to make David do the right thing. Mary Jo can’t find a hotel room or her man, so she takes shelter at Grace Harding’s ranch, in an apartment above a barn. She delivers her child that night with Grace, an EMT, and several farm animals as onlookers, and everyone is reminded of the true spirit of Christmas. Clearly, subtlety is not the order of the day. Sadly, neither is quality storytelling. There’s more life in a lump of coal. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Two years later (being this year) Macomber comes out with a “new” one called, I shit you not, Christmas in Cedar Cove. This one is a complete misery because it’s actually two books in one. The first book is 5B Poppy Lane and the second book is A Cedar Cove Christmas. Both stories (both!) are reprints (reprints!).

This is called Shitting on Your Fans.

So now, not only will I be at the circ desk trying to figure out if the patron wants A Cedar Cove Christmas OR Christmas in Cedar Cove, but I’m going to have to break their hearts by telling them that it’s the same book as the other one, and THEY WON’T BELIEVE ME.

“I want the new one.”

“The new one is actually the old one.”

“No, no. I saw it in a magazine. She has a new Cedar Cove Christmas book out.”

“It’s just a reprint.”

“But it has a different title.”

“No, it doesn’t.”

“but it-”

and on and on.

And the book cover for this LIE of a book in NO WAY informs the buyer/reader that they are getting a total reprint rehash of two of  her old shits! I’m calling shenanigans on this, and so should you.

“Oh, Jaimie,” you’re saying, “you one-note crime fiction reader, you. You’re just mad that there’s no Christmas murder books.”

That just shows what you know. There are quite a few Christmas murder books. And do you know what Christmas murder books all have in common? Other than 80% are written by the Judd Family of Fiction (oh, I said it), the Higgins Clarkses?

Punny titles. Here, let me provide some examples for you. These are by all different authors.

The Santa Cruise

The Twelve Deaths of Christmas

‘Tis the Season to be Dying

Santa Clawed

Wreck the Halls

Fatal Advent

Slay Bells

Shrouds of Holly

I don’t think anyone has done O Little Town of Deathlehem. Yet.

Okay We’ve talked about the romanc-y/sappy ones, the mystery ones, and that leaves us with the SERIOUS Christmas novels. And by serious I mean the make-you-cry-but-still-with-the-nice-and-tidy-so-you-don’t-kill-yourself endings. He’s the Nicholas Sparks of tiny, tasteful cover arted books: Richard Paul Evans.

THIS guy. He might be the nicest Mormon you’ve ever met, I don’t know. But his small, tear-jerkers drive me crazy. I think he uses the same formula Sparks does, but his books are much shorter. I’m not sure if that makes them better or worse. On the one hand, at least he gets right to the story. On the other hand, if you weren’t able to finish the whole book in one sitting, I doubt you’d pick it up a second time to even finish it.

I understand that I don’t have to like every book out there. And I know that not every book should be written to be great literature (thank God.) I don’t even read literature. You know the crap I read. My problem with this is that it is only written to make money. There’s no art to it, no originality, no quality. It’s all: take a sappy story, someone has to die or be abandoned, throw in a kid or an old person, add a handsome guy or a beautiful chick into the mix, the story takes place during the Christmas season so everyone is either bitter or sad, then they all fall in love and remember how great Christmas is. Slap a tree or decorated housefront on the cover, and rake in the cash.

And yeah, I’ll bet that all of the authors I name probably wrote their first Christmas book and did a good job with it. I mean, The Christmas Box and The Christmas Shoes (which, oh my gosh, is a novelisation of the song?! The more I look into this the angrier I get.)? Those have become part of the Christmas Television Special canon. But these authors, once they see how easy it is, can’t just leave it alone. They can’t just do “one and done.” They realize that if they can get another mawkishly trite Christmas flavored book out by October, they can all sit pretty on their piles of green just in time for the holidays while the readers are getting cheated.

Of course, not even the master, Dickens himself, could stop at one. He wrote five.

It’s all about the greenbacks, yo. I say we ALL write one of these. I’m calling dibs on O Little Town of Deathlehem.

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