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The Reeler Blog

Kyle Smith Masters the Allusion, If Not the Language

Because I woke up dying for a critic-news hat trick today, and because my crush on Kyle Smith has hardly abated since Friday's testicle-winched tandem of Blood Diamond and Off the Black reviews, I am slaving after hours to bring you the latest on Smith's mighty, wholly unexpected triumph of holiday literature, A Christmas Caroline. "The comic fantasy mixes the style elements and dating dilemmas of Sex and the City with a mystery involving characters created by (Dickens)," says the introduction, and to be sure, as excerpted Sunday in the Post, Smith's prose hums like the great novelist with his lips glued shut:

"Give to the world," Santa said in a soul baritone. He had set himself up in an urban gauntlet; to one side of him there was a long line of aluminum boxes dispensing crappy weekly newspapers; to the other there was a relic of a payphone and a bus shelter. To get to the street where purring taxis awaited, Caroline was obliged to squeeze past all these blocky, grimy forms and shimmy through the gap between Santa and the nearest newspaper box. Caroline had worn belts wider than this space.
"Give it up, pretty lady, give it up!" said Santa. "I'm not asking you to save the world. I just want your spare change."
"That beard looks flammable," said Caroline. "Maybe you should put out the cigarette."
Santa took a drag of his Newport Light and sighed. "Pretty lady," he said, stepping aside and doffing a red and white hat that looked like imitation polyester, "go in peace. But just remember that there are those who want, and that you didn't give even a token amount."

The "crappy weekly newspapers" are a nice touch from the frothy rightie, but "soul baritone"? "Give it up, pretty lady"? "Newport Light"? Thank God Smith's editor cut the line about Santa's old suit being "the faded pinkish-red of watermelon" -- you'd almost think Smith was describing a black man. Or maybe that's in the unabridged version? I'll never know.

Posted at December 11, 2006 6:15 PM

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