It’s December 20th, and poor gay Tad’s love life is in a shambles. He’s lost his teaching job at the tony Manhattan elementary school where he’s staff storyteller, is about to be evicted from his apartment, and—my God!—he’s 34, older than Christ! Humorist O’Donnell’s fiction (Getting Over Homer, 1996, etc.) is usually well-received for its loopy, silly narrative verve. But at times, his style overblows every little waterfly that skims across his mind (—Tad needed to unwrap a fresh bar of soap in order to shower, and he squirmed at its sharp edges, like rubbing a wooden box against himself, as he lathered up under the spigot’s impersonal torrent—). Here, a long round of Christmas parties and get-togethers sends Tad, Scrooge-like, through a dense life-review, including discussions about death (his friend Yoni says she’d like to die the traditional way, the “during orgasm” route). Along the way, there’s a clutch of quite moving moments, as the odyssey culminates with most of his losses restored: Friends offer him sleeping space, and his school may take him back. Life is a lovely empty glass to be refilled—but not before a final leaning toward suicide in frigid Central Park. Will this be the first annual gay literary Christmas carol? Only Knopf can know for sure.