Painting of a stack of 3 books
Painting of a stack of 3 books

An Off-White Christmas

An Off-White Christmas features a dozen stories all set on or around Christmas, though with little to no clear religious emphasis. Instead, these stories explore life changes and choices and chaos in times of heightened drama, when family and friends and life partners merge to form cohesive units, happy or otherwise. The stories range from a gambling spree in Las Vegas to a caravan traveling to Baraboo; from a teepee hotel in Kentucky to a retro movie theatre in Arizona; from a jolly Santa lookalike to a frustrated Dickensian actor; from students to retirees. Christmas, in these stories, is a character as much as a setting—it acts upon and with plot to create tension, but each story is unique. It’s hardly all sugar plums and pure white flakes, but always there’s that hope. Just as the notion of a “white Christmas” evokes well worn traditions of the holiday, these “un-white Christmas” stories introduce potential traditions that could expand and augment the Christmas spirit.

The 194-page hardcover book features 24 black and white illustrations by Hannah Jennings.

Hannah Jennings has designed and illustrated countless books, websites, and signs that interpret exhibits in zoos and museums. The focus of her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago was her artist’s books; she now teaches design at Dominican University. She is past president of the Society for Experiential Graphic Design. Her love of design, making images, and Christmas is apparent in her non-traditional online advent calendars; see them with her other illustrations at HannahJennings.com.

Now available for pre-order!

The trade paperback ships on October 19, 2018 from Eckhartz Press.

Pre-Order Here

Information about the embellished hardcover edition will be available soon.

Praise for An Off-White Christmas

The stories in Don Evans's excellent collection, An Off-White Christmas, are full of witty, humane moments, vivid characters and settings that range from Chicago to Syracuse to Las Vegas. The people you'll meet here are your friends, your neighbors, your relatives—in all their flawed beauty and pathos. This book is not to be missed.

Christine Sneed, author of Little Known Facts and Portraits of a Few of the People I've Made Cry

Don Evans can get the streets to talk as if they're telling their own stories. One hears in his work an immediately recognizable offhand tone that rings true, empathetic, street smart, and very funny.

Stuart Dybek, author of A Neighborhood and Other Stories, The Coast of Chicago, I Sailed with Magellan, Streets in Their Own Ink, Paper Lanterns, and Ecstatic Cahoots

Donald Evans has a great ear and a light touch and together they lead An Off-White Christmas in unpredictable directions. Underlying what’s funny in these stories are real families, friends and lovers colliding or coming together in what promises, but doesn’t always turn out to be, the season of good cheer.

Rosellen Brown, author of Street Games, Before and After, Half a Heart and others

Excerpts from the Stories

In every family there’s a rite of passage into adulthood: your first beer, moving to the adult table at holiday meals, the dropping of your nickname. In our family, you knew you were all grown up when Willie finally borrowed money off you.

from “An Off-White Christmas

This old couple was about as old as old couples get. A write-up in the local newspaper said they had just celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary. Seventy-five years: I’d have to hit the streets running to even contend for that. Say I found a woman I loved, got her to love me back, and we eloped to a drive-through Vegas chapel—we’d still have to both make it into our low hundreds.

from “Everyday's a No Repeat Day”

Woman throwing a Christmas tree over a fence
Electric Christmas light of Santa Clause on a playing card

Time’s a mystery in the casinos. There aren’t any clocks or windows, and pumped oxygen keeps you unnaturally energized. I felt juiced. It’s like, you’re minding your own business, and there’s a fire engine, and you don’t even realize you’re chasing the fire engine—you never decided, here I go after the fire engine—but before you know it you’re on the lawn watching the house burn down.

from “Tiny Flakes of Bone”

The thing was, I didn’t know what I would say, what I would do. I so wanted to be married. I dreaded the prospect of hunting down another potential life partner. There was so much preliminary blah blah blah you couldn’t skip. Then if you guessed wrong, and so far I’d only guessed wrong, you were back at Square One. How was I ever going to get a baby blue Ford Explorer with She’s The Boss vanity plates from Square One?

from “His Side of the Family”

I woke before dawn and could not fall back asleep. I never remember a time when I believed in Santa Claus. Maybe nobody does. It’s impossible, I suppose, to reconstruct naiveté.

from “One Person’s Garbage”

Electric Christmas light of Santa Clause on a playing card
Army helmut, pad of paper, and Kool cigarettes

I looked at my hardly started letter to Mom. I’d been telling her about the usual things here, and asking about the usual things there. I hunched over my pad. I fell back to recording little details—weather, food, rumors about travel and promotion and leave. Every time I tried to take up the subject of the little girl dying, I just couldn’t do it. For the first time I understood why you rarely heard veterans speak of their war experiences. The thing you most wanted was to leave that there, and go back to whatever was left of normal.

from “Whatever’s Left of Normal”

Wigley’s 9 a.m. energy level annoyed, no pained, me. It hurt just to stand there. Knowing Christmas Day would be sacrificed to this, I’d overdone Christmas Eve. It had started innocently enough but ended at a sticky kitchen table with sucked limes, spilled salt and a bottle of Jose Lopez. I thought, as Wigley went on and on about how knowing your lines did not mean knowing your character, that it only lasted one day. One dry Christmas, and I would wake tomorrow to a clean bill of health.

from “Bah!”

Scrooge
Hannah Jennings Design