Friday, February 15, 2013

Friday Freebie: Canada by Richard Ford and The Tell by Hester Kaplan

Congratulations to James Stolen, winner of last week's Friday Freebie: A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash and Dolls Behaving Badly by Cinthia Ritchie.

This week's book giveaway is another literary duet: new paperback copies of Canada by Richard Ford and The Tell by Hester Kaplan.  The copy of The Tell is signed by the author.

Canada--one of my favorite books of 2012--opens with two stark, compelling sentences: "First, I'll tell about the robbery our parents committed.  Then about the murders, which happened later."  Those words set the tone for the rest of the novel which Colm Toibin says is "a brilliant and engrossing portrait of a fragile American family and the fragile consciousness of a teenage boy."  That teenage boy, Dell Parsons, is the heart and soul of Ford's masterful, majestic novel--his best fiction since Rock Springs, in my humble opinion.  Here's the plot summary:
When fifteen-year-old Del Parsons' parents rob a North Dakota bank, his normal life is altered forever, and a threshold is crossed that can never be uncrossed. His parents' imprisonment threatens a turbulent and uncertain future for Del and his twin sister, Berner. Fierce with resentment, Berner flees their Montana home for California. But Del is not completely abandoned. A family friend spirits him across the Canadian border toward safety and a better life. There, afloat on the Saskatchewan prairie, Del finds only cold refuge from Arthur Remlinger, an enigmatic and alluring American fugitive with a dark and violent past. Undone by the calamity of his parents' robbery, Del struggles to remake himself. But his search for grace only moves him nearer to a harrowing and murderous collision with the forces of darkness that shadow us all.

The Tell, according to Antonya Nelson (author of Bound), is "an homage to The Great Gatsby: The competing forces of true love and false idols are played out beautifully in the course of a roiling relationship with a larger-than-life neighbor." Here's the plot synopsis about the tangled webs woven in these pages:
Mira and Owen's marriage is less stable than they know when Wilton Deere, an aging, no longer famous TV star moves in to the grand house next door. With plenty of money and plenty of time to kill, Wilton is charming but ruthless as he inserts himself into the couple's life in a quest for distraction, friendship—and most urgently—a connection with Anya, the daughter he abandoned years earlier. Facing stresses at home and work, Mira begins to accompany Wilton to a casino and is drawn to the slot machines. Escapism soon turns to full-on addiction and a growing tangle of lies and shame that threatens her fraying marriage and home. Betrayed and confused, Owen turns to the mysterious Anya, who is testing her own ability to trust her father after many years apart.
I've placed The Tell near the top of my own To-Be-Read pile, based in part on this perfectly-written first paragraph:
For weeks he’d waited for the wild lilacs arching over the carriage house to come to bloom. Then, back from teaching and a plodding swim at the Y in the afternoon, Owen had spotted the first fat plume with its buds rising like a thousand fists. The driveway’s pea gravel had protested underfoot as he broke off a sprig. He’d put the lilacs, delicate and strong-perfumed, in a pitcher on the sill over the sink for his wife Mira and saw now, as he looked up from his hands circling under running water, how their hue matched the lowering sky, the drooping sun. In the tinted early evening, Providence was washed with improbable color, lulled by a phony urban calm, the arterial whoosh of the highway and the digestive rumbling of the train moving out of the station down the hill toward Boston. Behind him at the table, Mira read in the paper about the city's boasts and failings, its crimes and peculiarities. His wife's head would be at that absorbed angle as though every story was interesting and in some way personal, but he understood that this sense of knowing her completely was wrong.

If you'd like a chance at winning a copy of both Canada and The Tell, 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 Feb. 21at which time I'll draw the winning name.  I'll announce the lucky reader on Feb. 22.  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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