Friday, January 6, 2012

Friday Freebie: Witches on the Road Tonight by Sheri Holman

Congratulations to Melissa Kramer, winner of last week's Friday Freebie: Spring by David Szalay.

This week's book giveaway is a novel which regular readers of The Quivering Pen have heard me trumpet once or twice in the past year: Witches on the Road Tonight by Sheri Holman.  As I wrote at the beginning of my earlier review:

Sheri Holman’s fourth novel, Witches on the Road Tonight, begins at the end of Eddie Alley’s life as the has-been host of a campy TV horror show writes what appears to be a suicide letter to his grown daughter Wallis. In this opening paragraph of Holman’s book, we find a good illustration of how the author of The Dress Lodger and The Mammoth Cheese uses detail to bring her sentences to life:
Of all the props I saved, only the coffin remains. Packed in boxes or tossed in the closet were the skulls and rubber rats, the cape folded with the care of a fallen American flag, my black spandex unitard, white at the seams where I’d stretched out the armpits, sweat-stained and pilled. I saved the squeezed-out tubes of greasepaint, the black shadow for under the eyes, the porcelain fangs. Of the gifts fans sent, I kept that bleached arc of a cat’s skeleton, the one you used to call Fluffy and hang your necklaces from, and a dead bird preserved with antifreeze. I kept maybe a hundred of the many thousands of drawings and letters from preteen boys and girls. There were some from adults, too, confessions of the sort they should be writing their shrinks or the police, and not a man who plays a vampire on TV. “Dear Captain Casket, Fangs for the memories.”
Just as The Mammoth Cheese embraced everything from dairy farming to Jeffersonian politics, Witches on the Road Tonight is a novel which takes a wide-angle view of mid-century American life. Holman touches on matriarchy, Appalachian witchcraft, silent movies, FDR’s Works Project Administration programs, homosexuality, traumatic childhoods, and the fleeting nature of fame—but especially the latter.  Imagine Captain Kangaroo in a blue funk after the television studio cameras have blinked off for the last time and you’ll have some sense of the malaise which settles over Eddie Alley after he’s hung up his Captain Casket cape.  Witches on the Road roams across the 70-year timeline of Eddie’s life, from his childhood in Panther Gap, Virginia to his campy popularity in small-market television in the 1960s to the twilight of his life in a Manhattan penthouse at midnight.

But don't just take my word for it.  Here's what The Washington Post had to say about the novel: "[Witches on the Road Tonight takes readers] deep into the secretive silence and sublime vistas of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a setting which Holman splendidly evokes in all its eerie beauty....She is as eloquent about the physical landscape of her stories as she is about the internal terrain of human emotion.... Seductive and hallucinatory....Witches on the Road Tonight is less about monsters and witches than it is about people whose fears and failings are profoundly and recognizably human."

I have a new paperback copy of Witches to give away to one lucky blog reader.  For your chance at winning it, all you have to do is answer this question:

What is the name of Holman's first novel, published in 1997?  (You can visit her website to find the answer--or, if you're a fan like me, you'll know it off the top of your head.)

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 Jan. 12--at which time I'll draw the winning name.  I'll announce the lucky reader on Jan. 13.  If you'd like to join the mailing list for the once-a-week Quivering Pen newsletter, simply add the words "Sign me up for the newsletter" in the body of your email.  Your email address and other personal information will never be sold or given to a third party.

Want to double your odds of winning?  Get an extra entry in the contest by posting a link to this webpage on your Facebook wall or by tweeting it on Twitter.  Once you've done either or both of those, send me an additional e-mail saying "I've shared" and I'll put your name in the hat twice.

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