Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday Freebie: Big Machine by Victor LaValle

Congratulations to April Adamson, winner of last week's Friday Freebie, The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt by Caroline Preston.

This week's book giveaway is Victor LaValle's award-winning novel Big Machine.  The novel came out in 2010 to great critical acclaim and garnered a lion's share of prizes, including:

Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence (2010)
American Book Award 2010
10 Best Books of 2009 — Publisher's Weekly
Favorite Fiction of 2009 — Chicago Tribune
Best Science Fiction of 2009 — Los Angeles Times
Best Science Fiction & Fantasy — Washington Post
Most Valuable Fiction Book of 2009 — The Nation

This week, I'm offering you the chance to win an unread hardbound copy of the book from my personal library (it's a duplicate, so don't worry--you're not robbing me of my only Big Machine).  Want to know more about the book?  Here's the jacket copy:
Ricky Rice is a middling hustler with a lingering junk habit, a bum knee, and a haunted mind. A survivor of a suicide cult, he scrapes by as a porter at a bus depot in Utica, New York, until one day a mysterious letter arrives, summoning him to Vermont's remote Northeast Kingdom.  He's inducted into a band of paranormal investigators comprised of former addicts and petty criminals, all of whom had at some point in their wasted lives heard what may have been the voice of God.  Big Machine is a mind-rattling mystery about doubt, faith, and the monsters we carry within us.

I could trot out any number of blurbs from great critics around the world, but I particularly liked what hip-hop artist Mos Def had to say about LaValle's book:  "Big Machine is like nothing I've ever read, incredibly human and alien at the same time.  LaValle writes like Gabriel Garcia Marquez mixed with Edgar Allen Poe, but this is even more than that.  He's written the first great book of the next America."

While most authors are notoriously cagey about their works-in-progress, LaValle let slip a few hints as to what his next book, which takes place in a Queens hospital, might be about in this interview with Full Stop:
I’m working on a few tales right now. Tales vs. stories, meaning that tales seem to happen in the real world, but they play with legend and myth. And then I have another thing going that’s just pure realist work. I’d like to dabble back into that world. The next book I’m working on seems to be another book with a “Monster” in it, but what I wanted to do is kind of flip it so it only seems like that for a while, but eventually it becomes something realist. Where some fiction starts somewhere real and then goes crazy, this one already starts there and then takes you some place real. But I’m starting crazy, because these characters are crazy.

If you'd like the chance to win a copy of Big Machine and get a jump on LaValle's next crazy book, all you have to do is answer this question:

In the list of awards I cited above, there's one award--named for a 20th-century female writer--which I've left out.  What is that award?  (You can find the answer by visiting LaValle'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 Dec. 22--at which time I'll draw the winning name.  I'll announce the lucky reader on Dec. 23.

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