Christmas, North Dakota 1944-1965
by Noel Mohberg
This book is an assembly of 22 Christmas-related vignettes set in rural North Dakota. The early stories tell of Christmases as seen through the eyes of Henning, who is a smallish ugly duckling lad in ’44. The stories are all about Christmas because Christmas is not an important holiday for him; it is the only important holiday. As he grows older, his view of the holiday grows with him. The characters tie the vignettes together, so the collection serves as a chronicle of Christmases for Henning’s family. Voices other than Henning’s tell the later stories and the bent of the stories grows in complexity.
The inspirations for these tales arose from real-life misadventures of the author’s acquaintances. Although the stories have dark sides, the spirit is light and good-humored.
No one rips a bodice open, and it’s not an action thriller or a murder mystery, either. Some browsers will think the stories and style of writing are dreadful. These folks should just put the book back on the shelf and pick up another writer’s work.
This book is unique, entertaining, and clever here and there. Some will find the style of writing outrageous and the stories hilarious in an oh-good-grief way. The book abounds in mangled metaphors, corrupted cliches, and created-as-needed words, so it’s best to read this book slowly, one vignette at a time. This is a book that should be savored, put down, and picked up on another day.