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Michael Knight Explores Families in 'Holiday Season'


The stress of the winter holidays is well known to politicians and therapists and many people hosting family this season.

One of the latest fiction writers to take this subject on is Michael Knight. He's published a pair of novellas under the title "The Holiday Season."

Alan Cheuse has a review.

ALAN CHEUSE: In the title novella, Knight starts out with a touch so light that some readers might wonder why they're putting their precious time into reading this story. I know I did. But I gave it a bit more time, and my patience paid off. "The Holiday Season" is about a cantankerous Alabama family approaching a Southern Christmas.

Frank Posey, a less-than-successful actor, narrates the drama that centers on the antics of his windowed father and highfaluting brother, Ted, from the advent of Thanksgiving on through the Christmas holiday. Dad seems to have a French-born, elegantly aging neighbor interested in him, but he's apparently still lost in the loss of his wife. Brother Ted and his wife, Marcy, would like everyone to move pass the family moping as soon as they can. We were - none of us bad man, Frank tells us, all of us well intentioned. And Frank is well-intentioned, even as he opens his bedroom door for a nighttime visit from his brother's wife.

You can say the same for the characters in the second novella "Love at the End of the Year," which takes a motley group of southerners, old and young, and brings them together on a New Year's Eve that rings in the year with some hard truth. But when was truth on a holiday ever easy? Nobody like to see the underside of someone they love, that's a line from Stella, estranged from her husband and the mother of teenage boy, a source of constant worry. Love was too hard an illusion to maintain, Stella goes on to say. So is the depiction of ordinary life without fanfare, without melodrama, but Michael Knight make it seem easy in this holiday gift to us all.

BLOCK: The book is "The Holiday Season" by Michael Knight.

Alan Cheuse teaches writing at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. His latest of fiction is called "The Fires."

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BLOCK: This is NPR, National Public Radio. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Alan Cheuse died on July 31, 2015. He had been in a car accident in California earlier in the month. He was 75. Listen to NPR Special Correspondent Susan Stamburg's retrospective on his life and career.