Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Freebie: A Small Hotel by Robert Olen Butler

Congratulations to Dmitry Obgolts, winner of last week's Friday Freebie: The Dubious Salvation of Jack V  by Jacques Strauss.

This week's book giveaway is Robert Olen Butler's new novel A Small Hotel.  Butler is always trying something new with each book he writes--whether it's constructing a story from "found" postcards (Had a Good Time: Stories from American Postcards) or telling tales from the perspective of decapitated heads (Severance).  Now, with A Small Hotel, he explores the way in which a marriage unravels.  Here's a blurb from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
Set in contemporary New Orleans but working its way back in time, A Small Hotel chronicles the relationship between Michael and Kelly Hays, who have decided to separate after twenty-four years of marriage. The book begins on the day that the Hays are to finalize their divorce. Kelly is due to be in court, but instead she drives from her home in Pensacola, Florida, across the panhandle to New Orleans and checks into Room 303 at the Olivier House in the city’s French Quarter—the hotel where she and Michael fell in love some twenty-five years earlier and where she now finds herself about to make a decision that will forever affect her, Michael, and their nineteen-year-old daughter, Samantha. An intelligent, deeply moving, and remarkably written portrait of a relationship that reads as a cross between a romance novel and a literary page turner, A Small Hotel is a masterful story that will remind readers once again why Robert Olen Butler has been called the “best living American writer.”
I decided to give A Small Hotel the Page 99 Test.  Here's a paragraph from that section of the novel (spilling over onto page 100):
Far off, the cry of a train whistle. Kelly blinks in a room now no longer bright. Not yet dim but no longer bright. The train whistle cries again, distantly, from the riverfront. The sun, though still out there somewhere, has slipped behind the rooftops of the Quarter. A moment ago she was preparing to be married, she was leaning out above the courtyard on her fortieth birthday and remembering her wedding day and she came back into the room and she lay in bed beside Michael on that day.  And this little afterimage plays in her mind now, with one Scotch in her and the rest of the bottle and the pills waiting and the room going dim: there was a train whistle. After she unpacks, she comes to the bed and Michael is propped up on the side nearest the night table and he has papers on his chest and he is wearing his reading glasses and she lies down beside him and he says, without looking up from the papers, "I'm sorry. I have to do this."

If you'd like a chance at winning a copy of A Small Hotel, all you have to do is answer this question:

Which of Butler's books won the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction?  (The answer can be found in the Bio section of the author's website)

Email your answer to

Put FRIDAY FREEBIE in the e-mail subject line.  One entry per person, please.  Please e-mail me the answer, rather than posting it in the comments section.  Despite its name, the Friday Freebie runs all week long and remains open to entries until midnight on Sept. 29--at which time I'll draw the winning name.  I'll announce the lucky reader on Sept. 30.

No comments:

Post a Comment