• Tinsel

  • A Search for America's Christmas Present
  • By: Hank Stuever
  • Narrated by: Ray Porter
  • Length: 10 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 12-11-09
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • 5 out of 5 stars 4.8 (5 ratings)


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, the opening of the Christmas shopping season. From there he follows a number of key residents of Frisco, Texas, as they navigate through the nativity and all its attendant crises: Tammy Parnell, an eternally optimistic suburban mother and 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, the house visible from space with the brightest and most awe-inspiring Christmas decorations; and single mother and Bank of America employee 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. Tinsel is a compelling tale of our half-trillion-dollar holiday, measuring what we've become against the ancient rituals of what we've always been.
©2009 Hank Stuever; (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
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Critic reviews

"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)
"Insightful, funny/sad, filled with poetry and despair; who better than Hank Stuever to take on the Christmas Industrial Complex with such ultimate humanity, given that he writes like an angel." (David Rakoff, author of Don't Get Too Comfortable and Fraud)
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Regular price: £18.09

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Farniboy on 10-12-14

An American Christmas...

Where does Tinsel rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I really enjoyed it. I wanted something to listen to that was about Christmas and took the plunge. It was definitely up there with the greats. Its a slice of an American Christmas, following a few characters across three years. Luckily for the author the first year of his project was 2006 when everyone thought the good times were here to stay. The following years briefly catch up on the residents of Frisco as the effects of the Credit Crunch are beginning to tell.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Jeff Trykowski the Christmas light's wizard. Because this is an audiobook there are obviously no photographs so I entered Jeff's name in Youtube and...wow! They are stunning!

Have you listened to any of Ray Porter’s other performances? How does this one compare?

Ray Porter is fast becoming my favourite narrator. I've just finished listening to his reading of They Thirst. This is a factual book but he still imbues the participants with a great selection of easily recognisable voices. I'm going to start looking at his back catalogue.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I love Christmas, as most of the people in this book do, so it definitely gave me a glow. There are sad bits and funny bits.

Any additional comments?

A prescient look at how Christmas is celebrated in a boom town in Texas. It touches on the history of Christmas in America, the economics of the festive period and the religious side too, through a cast of mainly sympathetic characters. It exposes the commercial side of the festive season mercilessly, but boils everything down to the important things. A nice easy listen. I'd really recommend it for your December credit.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Sheri C on 03-02-13

Christmas wishes: the elusive mega-moment

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, especially as it was a refreshing change from the usual current holiday glurge. The author seems to give an honest picture of the families he followed, treating them with respect, affection, and humor. I think he did a pretty good job of capturing, from an outsider's perspective, what we all want Christmas to be, how we try to go about making it happen, and how it can sometimes fall short of that dream. He completely nailed Stonebriar Mall, Frisco, a certain type of affluent North Texas demographic, and Canton. I laughed out loud at his description of Canton, remembering my own WTF-moment when I saw the scooter-people last time I was there. My only criticism is his seemingly hurried treatment of the last two years of the book. He really only covers a single Christmas - 2006 - and just checks in and gives us an update of the 2007 and 2008 Christmases. It's unfortunate, because he was in a unique position to thoroughly document how the changing economy impacted our attitudes between those years. I remember 2008 as the year we could no longer pretend that there wasn't something seriously wrong with the economy, and that Christmas as especially black. But I suppose it wasn't *that* kind of a book.

Ray Porter's reading was excellent. He lent a dry tone of voice to the text that seemed just right, and he gave a pretty good approximation of the Texas drawl. Most audiobook narrators seem to substitute a southern accent for Texans.

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30 of 31 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Julieann on 09-01-15

A Candid Look at Christmas

I really enjoyed this book! Narration was fantastic, it was read with feeling. I liked hearing about the lives of those people living in Frisco, TX. This book gave me an overall general view of what I hope Christmas to be but always falls short of-way short. I understand my desire for a beautiful fire, a table laden with goodies from my childhood and a family that's truly thankful. But the author is right, we can't go back. This book has actually helped me to come to terms with my disappointment every season. Perhaps, perhaps, I won't feel that longing next Christmas. Now that would be absolutely phenomenal!

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28 of 30 people found this review helpful

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