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.
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.
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.
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.