In Santa Steps Out, Robert Devereaux restores the lust and raging lunacy of classic Greek mythology to our most cherished, and sanitized, contemporary American fable. Robert Devereaux is now often classified as a bizarro author, though I think he was initially categorized in the sci-fi/fantasy/horror genres. I just discovered him some months ago. Here’s the basic story of his 1998 novel, Santa Steps Out:
Santa Claus, while making his rounds one Christmas Eve, bumps into the Tooth Fairy who happens to be making her rounds, depositing coins under children’s pillows in exchange for teeth. (We learn a lot of juicy facts about the Tooth Fairy in this book. For example, she actually eats the teeth she picks up, and then excretes the coins she leaves behind.) The Tooth Fairy is a hot babe and she seduces Santa multiple times in the first chapter. But, we also learn that Santa is married to Anya and he is filled with remorse for having cheated on his ever-loving, ever faithful wife.
Unable to contain his feelings of guilt, Santa confesses his sin to Anya. She feels devastated, but he insists his affair occurred in a moment of weakness and promises it will never happen again. She forgives him. Then, for the next twenty years, every Christmas Eve, Santa hooks up with the Tooth Fairy for another fling or two in the sack. Though wracked with guilt, Santa never tells Anya that his trysts have continued. In fact, in order to meet with the Tooth Fairy more frequently, Santa has his elves build him a secret cabin out in the woods where he can fornicate with his lover at his leisure.
Unbeknownst to Santa, however, the Easter Bunny is a voyeur who enjoys spying on people having sex. One night, he’s shocked to discover that Santa and the Tooth Fairy are lovers. This is very disturbing to the Easter Bunny. For many years, the Easter Bunny has been madly in love (and secretly lusting after) Santa’s wife, Anya. Although Anya is in her sixties with white hair and spectacles (the classic Mrs. Claus), the Easter Bunny finds her to be the sexiest creature on the planet. So, he formulates a plan to win Anya away from Santa. One night, when Santa and the Tooth Fairy are going at it hot and heavy in their secret hideaway, the Easter Bunny goes to Santa’s house, wakes up Anya and brings her to the little cottage in the woods so she can see it with her own eyes.
Now, the story starts to get downright crazy. (Up till now, it hasn’t been a whole lot different from most of the afternoon soaps on TV.) I’ll skip the details on how Mrs. Claus gets her revenge and what happens to the Easter Bunny and Santa’s new lover and Mrs. Claus’s new lover and the weird Tooth Fairy/Easter Bunny hookup and the sex galore. Then some more sex, all leading up to a satisfying and heartwarming wrap-up.
What I find endlessly amusing about Santa Steps Out is that Devereaux writes in the style of the classic romance novel. His characters spend every waking moment dwelling on their feelings, their suffering, their romantic hopes and dreams. But these characters are Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy.
When I finished the book and put it down on the overstuffed arm of my chair in my library, all I wanted to do was have a cup of hot cocoa and listen to Bing Crosby crooning White Christmas. Placing such universal childhood icons into a very adult fairy tale would likely strike many as perverse, though others (like me) found it strangely refreshing. This is the kind of novel I hope teenagers will discover as it may encourage them to become readers and perhaps even writers.
Suffice it to say that Robert Devereaux is as inspired and deranged as any novelist I’ve ever read. I suspect some years down the road (okay, some centuries down the road), this book will be a Christmas classic, right up there with Frosty the Snowman, the Bells of St. Mary, and Rudolph. Devereaux takes down our desexualized, dehumanized world of corporate mythology like Hercules slaying the nine-headed hydra, and it’s about time.
If you like to read stories where you really never know what’s going to happen next, and what happens next is always slightly more warped than you were expecting, you’ll like Devereaux. He writes with a classically smooth style—no avant-garde experimental passages—just twists and turns that never stop surprising. He creates vivid scenes of depravity, not always in good taste, but always in good humor. Devereaux is a subversive writer who throws bombs with a smile on his face.