Friday, October 31, 2014

Friday Freebie: Carthage by Joyce Carol Oates and Return to Oakpine by Ron Carlson

Congratulations to Martha Gifford, winner of last week's Friday Freebie: The Game We Play by Susan Hope Lanier, The Freedom in American Songs by Kathleen Winter, and There Once Lived a Mother Who Loved Her Children, Until They Moved Back In by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya.

This week's book giveaway is a pair of novels by two of our greatest contemporary American writers: Carthage by Joyce Carol Oates and Return to Oakpine by Ron Carlson.  One lucky reader will win both books which are now out in paperback.

A young girl's disappearance rocks a community and a family in Carthage, a stirring examination of grief, faith, justice, and the atrocities of war from Joyce Carol Oates.  Zeno Mayfield's daughter has disappeared into the night, gone missing in the wilds of the Adirondacks.  But when the community of Carthage joins a father's frantic search for the girl, they discover the unlikeliest of suspects--a decorated Iraq War veteran with close ties to the Mayfield family.  As grisly evidence mounts against the troubled war hero, the family must wrestle with the possibility of having lost a daughter forever.  Carthage plunges us deep into the psyche of a wounded young corporal haunted by unspeakable acts of wartime aggression, while unraveling the story of a disaffected young girl whose exile from her family may have come long before her disappearance.  “Oates shows how perilous it is to assign guilt, and how hard it is to draw the line between victim and perpetrator in a blurred moral landscape in which every crime, on the battlefield or on the home front, is a crime of conscience.”  (New York Times Book Review)

Return to Oakpine was high on the list of best books I read last year (but, really, the same could be said for just about any year I read something by Ron Carlson).  Click here to read my full appreciation for the novel.  Here's the publisher's jacket copy synopsis to tell you a little more about the book:  Ron Carlson has always been a critics’ favorite, but Return to Oakpine shows the acclaimed writer at his finest.  In this tender and nostalgic portrait of western American life, Carlson tells the story of four middle-aged friends who once played in a band while growing up together in small-town Wyoming.  One of them, Jimmy Brand, left for New York City and became an admired novelist.  Thirty years later in 1999, he’s returned to die.  Craig Ralston and Frank Gunderson never left Oakpine; Mason Kirby, a Denver lawyer, is back on family business.  Jimmy’s arrival sends the other men’s dreams and expectations, realized and deferred, whirling to the surface.  And now that they are reunited, getting the band back together might be the most essential thing they ever do.

If you’d like a chance at winning both books, 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 Nov. 6, at which time I’ll draw the winning name.  I’ll announce the lucky reader on Nov. 7.  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.

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