Book review: Does Santa Exist? by Eric Kaplan


Published by Little, Brown

At first glance, Eric Kaplan’s Does Santa Exist? looks like a perfect fit for the ‘toilet book’ genre – a whimsical ‘philosophical investigation’ from a comedy screenwriter whose credits include The Big Bang Theory and The Simpsons.

On closer inspection, we have something rather odder and deeper. Kaplan turns out to be a Berkeley-trained philosopher and former Buddhist monk whose late brother had Down’s Syndrome and who is now a student of Kabbalah.

All of these experiences come into play in this story of his intellectual and spiritual development, which also takes in Confucius, Aquinas and Wittgenstein.

Kaplan quickly extends the question of Santa’s existence into a broader enquiry into the very meaning of life, as he examines the rival claims of rationalism, mysticism and comedy as answers to life’s thorniest paradoxes.

Kaplan wears his learning lightly and has some very good jokes (I like his crack that Proust’s final volume, Time Regained, is rather a spoiler for the whole sequence).

Compassionate and enlightened, here is a Christmas toilet book that offers compelling answers to life’s biggest questions.