Friday, February 7, 2014

Friday Freebie: A Timothy Schaffert Bundle

Congratulations to Stephen Lyons, winner of last week's Friday Freebie: Kids These Days by Drew Perry.

This week's book giveaway is a bundle of three novels I'm especially proud and excited to offer to blog readers.  Novelist Timothy Schaffert has long been a personal favorite of mine--he reminds me of a delicious cocktail that tastes like John Irving, Lewis Nordan and T. R. Pearson--and now he has a new novel hitting bookstores this week: The Swan Gondola, a romance set against the 1898 World's Fair in Omaha.  In honor of that book's publication, Unbridled Books publisher Greg Michalson has generously donated three of Schaffert's earlier novels, all set in Nebraska: The Singing and Dancing Daughters of God, The Phantom Limbs of the Rollow Sisters, and The Coffins of Little Hope.  One lucky reader will win a copy of all three novels (in trade paperback format) and after reading them, I'm confident that same reader will rush out to buy The Swan Gondola (squeal of tires, bang of bookstore door bursting open, ka-ching! of cash register). To illustrate Schaffert's graceful way with a pen, I'm including the opening paragraph of each of the novels.

In Schaffert's 2005 novel, The Singing and Dancing Daughters of God, newly-divorced Hud Smith channels his regret into writing country-western songs, contemplating life on the lam with his 8-year-old daughter, and searching cryptic postcards for news of his teenage son who has run off with The Daughters of God, an alternative Gospel-punk band of growing fame. Then he finds himself inching toward reconciliation with his ex, tossing his whole talent for misery into question as they head off in a borrowed school bus, hoping so very tentatively to bring the entire family together again. Opening paragraph:
To get through the afternoons that wound into early evenings, driving a school bus along long country roads and driveways, Hud kept slightly drunk. He sipped from an old brown root-beer bottle he'd filled with vodka. There'd been a few times in the past when he'd gotten too drunk, when he'd swerved too much to avoid a raccoon, and even once a sudden hawk swooping too low. He made himself sick to think how he'd once nearly driven the rickety bus in all its inflammability into an electrical pole. He knew what an ugly notoriety such an accident would bring him. The whole world, Hud thought, likes to mourn together and hate together when it can.

The Phantom Limbs of the Rollow Sisters, Schaffert's debut from 2002, chronicles two sisters on the cusp of womanhood as they struggle to understand their father’s suicide as well their mother’s abandonment of them many years earlier. On graduating from high school, the sisters are once again set adrift, this time by their grandmother who leaves them for Florida. In order to survive, and perhaps even thrive, on their path to adulthood, they must learn to reconcile their pasts and discover how to depend upon themselves as well as on each other.  Opening paragraph:
In her secondhand shop, Mabel stretched out on the fainting sofa, feeling tipsy from the summer’s heat, not knowing, for a moment, if it was June, July, or August. She shook up a leaking snow globe, the white flakes settling in the laps of lovers on a gondola. Mabel had read in a book of antiques that the snow in snow globes was once made of sawed-up bone. Though Mabel was very young, she often pictured her demise, often hovered above her own Valentino-like funeral with women collapsing and broad-chested men singing impromptu bass tremolo. She’d like to donate her skeleton to a snow globe maker, liked thinking of her remains forever drifting among the plastic landscapes of a souvenir.

The Coffins of Little Hope (2011) is all about death...and I guaran-damn-tee you'll have a rollicking good time reading about it.  Essie Myles, an 83-year-old obituary writer for a struggling, small-town newspaper finds herself embroiled in intrigue, stumbling onto the story of her career: a country girl has gone missing, perhaps whisked away by an itinerant aerial photographer. Or so it seems. It all could be simply a hoax, or a delusion, the child and child-thief invented from the desperate imagination of a lonely, lovelorn farm woman. The fragility of childhood, the strength of family, and the powerful rumor mills of small, rural towns—The Coffins of Little Hope tells the story of characters caught in the intricately woven webs of myth, legend and deception. Opening paragraph:
I still use a manual typewriter (a 1953 Underwood portable, in a robin’s egg blue) because the soft pip-pip-pip of the typing of keys on a computer keyboard doesn’t quite fit with my sense of what writing sounds like. I need the hard metal clack, and I need those keys to sometimes catch so I can reach in and untangle them, turning my fingertips inky. Without slapping the return or turning the cylinder to release the paper with a sharp whip, without all that minor havoc, I feel I’ve paid no respect to the dead. What good is an obituary if it can be written so peaceably, so undisturbingly, in the dark of night?

If you’d like a chance at winning The Singing and Dancing Daughters of God, The Phantom Limbs of the Rollow Sisters, and The Coffins of Little Hope, simply 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. 13, at which time I’ll draw the winning name.  I’ll announce the lucky reader on Feb. 14 (what a sweetheart of a deal!).  If you’d like to join the mailing list for the once-a-week 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.

1 comment:

  1. I like the sound of these three, thanks for the chance to win!

    Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out