32 Books in 32 Days – Day 28: Kevin Kling’s Holiday Inn

Each day leading up to the April 17 announcement of the 22nd Annual Minnesota Book Awards, we highlight one of the thirty-two finalists. Today, we feature


Memoir & Creative Nonfiction Finalist,
Kevin Kling’s Holiday Inn
Kevin Kling

An excerpt from Kevin Kling’s Holiday Inn:

For Christmas Dinner at my Grandmother Dysart’s house, we always had country ham. Country ham is preserved with salt. Pounds of salt, sugar, and pepper. It’s tightly packed with the spices, then wrapped in a cloth bag and hung in a ventilated place for months, years. Granddad had a special, seriously off-limits shed for hams out back of the house. A week before Christmas, Granddad would take a ham down from the rafters and cut off the thick mold that new enveloped it. Inside the horrible mass of rotting cloth, mold, and fat is the most delicious, salty treat, like a magic meat geode. Usually the ham is soaked for a day or two before cooking to try to pull some of the salt out. Grandma used 7-Up, but I’m not sure if this makes a noticeable difference. Country ham is not an acquired taste. You have to be born to it. It’s like other foods from cultures all around the globe, dishes that used various techniques for preserving food before refrigeration, lutefisk in Norway or sauerkraut in Germany or kimchee in Korea. They are flavors we don’t really need any more, but they remind us of how good we’ve got it. Flavors not for the timid.

Celebrate all the holidays–and then some–with renowned storyteller Kevin Kling, whose sense of the ridiculous never gets in the way of his appreciation for human nature. This hilarious and touching collection of essays recounts years of disastrous and amusing holidays from Christmas to Memorial Day.


Kevin Kling is a regular contributor to NPR’s All Things Considered and is a well-known playwright whose plays have been performed at numerous theaters including the Guthrie Theater, Second Stage, the Seattle Repertory Theatre, the Goodman Theatre, the Spoleto Festival, and the HBO Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Colorado. Each fall he performs at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee. He lives in Minneapolis.


“The book is divided into seasons, and then stories about Kevin Kling’s family during holidays. The photograph on the cover relates to the Christmas when his younger brother Steven thought the Christmas turkey was his. He hid the frozen turkey under his bed, so no one would steal it, prepared it to protect it each night with a bow and arrow. On Christmas, the family had to purchase TV dinners instead of eating a rotten turkey…Other holidays include humorous and poignant stories, including Valentine’s Day, when, in elementary school, he agonized over which Valentine was appropriate for which student…Kevin Kling’s humor is irresistible. Readers will find this book a very enjoyable read…” – Minnesota Book Awards Judge

“Kevin Kling’s stories are not merely delightful. They are surprising, wise and redemptive. He is one of our great national treasures.” – Krista Tippett, public radio host and founder of Speaking of Faith.

Hear Kevin explain how every man in his family has been struck by lightning.

Kevin Kling is scheduled to be our guest author at the 18th annual Donor Society Luncheon of The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library on October 15, 2010. If you would like more information about how you can become a member of the Donor Society, meet and have lunch with Kevin, and receive an autographed copy of his book, please contact Liz Boyd, Director of Individual and Planned Giving at 651-366-6490 or call The Friends at 651-222-3242.


Award winners will be announced at the 22nd Annual Minnesota Book Awards Gala on Saturday, April 17, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, in downtown Saint Paul. The opening reception begins at 6:30 p.m.; followed by the awards ceremony at 8 p.m. A very limited number of tickets are still available at $40 each. Please call 651-222-3242.

Have you read Kevin Kling’s Holiday Inn? What are your thoughts? We welcome your comments!

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