Friday, August 10, 2012

Friday Freebie: Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

Congratulations to Cynthia Baskin, winner of last week's Friday Freebie: Hand Me Down by Melanie Thorne.

This week's book giveaway is Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter (author of The Financial Lives of the Poets and Citizen Vince). I'm very excited to offer a new hardback copy of Beautiful Ruins to one lucky reader.  You can expect to see this novel popping up on end-of-year Best Books of 2012 lists.  I guaran-damn-tee it.  But hey, you just want to know what all the fuss is about, right?  Here's the plot summary from the publisher:
The story begins in 1962. On a rocky patch of the sun-drenched Italian coastline, a young innkeeper, chest-deep in daydreams, looks out over the incandescent waters of the Ligurian Sea and spies an apparition: a tall, thin woman, a vision in white, approaching him on a boat. She is an actress, he soon learns, an American starlet, and she is dying. And the story begins again today, half a world away, when an elderly Italian man shows up on a movie studio's back lot—searching for the mysterious woman he last saw at his hotel decades earlier. What unfolds is a dazzling, yet deeply human, roller coaster of a novel, spanning fifty years and nearly as many lives. From the lavish set of Cleopatra to the shabby revelry of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Walter introduces us to the tangled lives of a dozen unforgettable characters: the starstruck Italian innkeeper and his long-lost love; the heroically preserved producer who once brought them together and his idealistic young assistant; the army veteran turned fledgling novelist and the rakish Richard Burton himself, whose appetites set the whole story in motion—along with the husbands and wives, lovers and dreamers, superstars and losers, who populate their world in the decades that follow. Gloriously inventive, constantly surprising, Beautiful Ruins is a story of flawed yet fascinating people, navigating the rocky shores of their lives while clinging to their improbable dreams.

The novel has earned some outstanding (and justified) praise from fellow authors like Richard Russo (That Old Cape Magic): “Why mince words? Beautiful Ruins is an absolute masterpiece.”  The Kansas City Star was equally rhapsodic: “Lyrical, heartbreaking, and funny....Walter closes the deal with such command that you begin to wonder why up till now he’s not often been mentioned as one of the best novelists around. Beautiful Ruins might just correct that oversight.”  As a special treat, you can listen to Brad Listi's interview with Jess on the Other People podcast where the two discuss Los Angeles, Hollywood, screenwriting, brand management, profanity, pigeonholing, Twitter, shame, fear, respect, Don DeLillo, neural pathways, Loverboy, David Bowie, great vs. good, simplicity, efficiency, Marilynne Robinson, Aleksandar Hemon, polar exploration, Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions, basketball, Anna Karenina, Ruby Ridge, external validation, reviews, concentration, dissolution, frustration, the Iraq War, Spokane, writing routines, McSweeney’s, and generational poverty.  And a bunch of other stuff.

If you'd like a chance at winning a copy of Beautiful Ruins, all you have to do is email your name and mailing address to

Put FRIDAY FREEBIE in the e-mail subject line.  One entry per person, please.  Despite its name, the Friday Freebie runs all week long and remains open to entries until midnight on Aug. 16at which time I'll draw the winning name.  I'll announce the lucky reader on Aug. 17.  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 (except in those instances where the publisher requires a mailing address for sending Friday Freebie winners copies of the book).

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

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