Robert Devereaux, Santa Steps Out (Leisure, 1998)
[originally posted 29Mar2002]
My reverence of Robert Devereaux’s first novel, Deadweight, borders on the worshipful. After recently re-reviewing it, both one of my best friends and Devereaux himself e-mailed me and told me exactly the same thing: to get my hands on Santa Steps Out pronto. So I did (well, a little less pronto than I should have). They were both absolutely correct.
Make no mistake, this book will offend you. Any book containing scenes where Santa Claus cheats on his wife with the Tooth Fairy in the bed of a six-year-old (who’s presently sleeping in it) while a voyeuristic Easter Bunny watches is bound to find some way to offend everyone. Most who brave the uproariously funny goings-on between the mythical creatures will probably end up offended by the moral to the story, as well; sometimes the truth hurts, eh? However, as should be obvious from Devereaux’s afterword, “Making Light of Santa Claus,” the various publishing renegades who championed this book from the completion of its final draft until its publication eight years later didn’t show up just for the beer. Devereaux shows, once again, his ability to take the looniest possible situations, things so over the top they make scenes in Dan O’Bannon-scripted films look like documentaries, and still connive the reader into forming bonds. In Deadweight, we found ourselves empathizing with a corpse; here, we commiserate with Santa Claus. Think about it.
You may think I’m stressing this point a little hard, but, well, I am. This book is not for the weak of heart, stomach, eyes, arches, or any other body part. It’s the literary equivalent of Peter Jackson’s outrageously funny movie Dead Alive, but with far more emotional depth sprung upon the unsuspecting reader. Those intrepid few who find themselves at its gates and make it past the first fifty or so pages are in for a fantastic ride, and the rest are missing out. Certainly in the running for my top 25 (thank you, Amazon, for expanding the lists!) reads of 2002. ****