Friday, November 12, 2010

Tinsel and Lights: Washington Post Writer to Explore Christmas in Modern America

CHESTERTOWN—Award-winning journalist, essayist, and pop culture writer Hank Stuever will read from his latest book, Tinsel: A Search for America’s Christmas Present (Harcourt) on Tuesday, November 30, at Washington College. The reading will begin at 5 p.m. at Center Stage (also known as The Egg), a performance space in Hodson Hall Commons, 300 Washington Avenue.

View photos from the event.

Tinsel is a fascinating and hilarious account of the role that the Christmas holiday plays in modern American life. Stuever chronicles the experiences of three Texas families over the course of three holiday seasons, from 2006 through 2008. Following these families from crowded malls and megawatt Christmas light displays to church services and craft bazaars, Stuever explores the impact of the year’s biggest holiday on modern American culture, family dynamics and the consumer economy. USA Today called Stuever’s observations “laugh-out-loud funny,” and the New Yorker heralded the book as “cultural anthropology at its most exuberant.”

Stuever describes the setting for Tinsel this way: “It’s a story about people living in the newest kind of America—a land of new malls, new houses, big churches, easy credit, and freshly built highways.” As he takes the reader through the typical holiday practices of the Parnell, Trykoski, and Cavazos families, he identifies the spiritual, emotional, and material meanings that have come to be synonymous with Christmas.

Stuever has been a writer for the Washington Post’s Style section for ten years and is currently the newspaper’s television critic. In addition to Tinsel, he is the author of Off Ramp: Adventures and Heartache in the American Elsewhere (Henry Holt, 2004), a collection of essays about the intersection of popular culture and real life. He is a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in feature writing, and has appeared on Today, The View, MSNBC and National Public Radio.

The reading is free and open to the public. A book signing and holiday treats will follow.

About the C.V. Starr Center

Based in the Custom House along Chestertown’s colonial waterfront, the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience at Washington College fosters the art of written history and explores our nation’s past—particularly the legacy of its Founding era—in innovative ways, through educational programs, scholarship and public outreach. Its guiding principle is that now more than ever, a wider understanding of our shared past is fundamental to the continuing success of America’s democratic experiment. For more information on the Center, visit

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