Friday, October 24, 2014

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

Congratulations to Lewis Parker and Carl Scott, winners of last week's Friday Freebie contest: The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi, Gravity by Elizabeth Rosner, and Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante.

This week's book giveaway is a trio of short story collections: 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.  One lucky reader will win all three paperbacks.  Read on for more information about the books.

The ten riveting, emotionally complex stories in The Game We Play examine the decisions we make when our choices are few and courage is costly.  Topics include a young couple facing disease and commitment with the same sharp fear, a teenager stealing from his girlfriend's mother's purse to help pay for her abortion, and a father making a split-second decision that puts his child's life at risk.  Here's some praise from Paste Magazine: “Lanier's deceptively breezy prose may pour off the page as easily as water flows from the tap, but her unassuming way with words actually requires great finesse.  Apparently fluent in the unvarnished dialect we speak in our own thoughts, Lanier adroitly avoids the trap of trying too hard to sound clever.  Instead, she relies on cutting wit, keen powers of observation, and an easily swollen heart to shine light on awkward truths in a way that renders them almost deliciously painful.  Without glamorizing youthful malaise, her flawed but endearing characters bump—and sometimes grind—against each other, leaving the kinds of bruises that turn into lingering regret and inconvenient wisdom.  In The Game We Play, Lanier manages to be understated and unflinching at the same time and strides forward with a confident, highly compassionate debut.”

In the pages of The Freedom in American Songs, you'll find some indelible characters.  Meet Xavier Boland, the untouchable cross-dresser, who walks loose and carefree as an old Broadway tune.  Meet Miss Penrice, a lost old woman forced by wartime to parent a child for the first time.  Meet a Zamboni mechanic turned funeral porteur, Madame Poirer's lapdog (and its chastity belt), a congregation of hard-singing, sex-obsessed Pentecostals, and more.  With The Freedom in American Songs, Kathleen Winter brings her unusual sensuality, lyrically rendered settings, and subversive humor to bear on a new story collection about modern loneliness, small-town gay teens, catastrophic love, and the holiness of ordinary life.  Praise for The Freedom in American Songs: “Winter’s quirky second collection offers 14 stories filled with extraordinary individuals living within artfully rendered landscapes.  The three ‘Marianne Stories,’ set in a village on the east coast of Canada, are filled with wonders and discoveries, from the beauty of splits of wood in winter to raspberries out of season.  Marianne’s visit to a Pentecostal service is a comic delight.  The second section ranges from the cross-dressing Xavier of the title story to Claire, who is visiting Florida’s Sanibel Island as a respite from the MontrĂ©al winter, to a homeless flamenco dancer, all rendered in vivid, empathetic language.”  (Jane Ciabattari, “Between the Lines,”

“Love them,­ they’ll torture you; don’t love them, ­they’ll leave you anyway.”  In the three darkly-imagined novellas of family life in There Once Lived a Mother Who Loved Her Children, Until They Moved Back In, both cruelty and love dominate relationships between husband and wife, mother and child.  Here a devoted mother commits a terrible crime against her own son in order to save him; an aging poet exploited by her own children struggles for survival; a young nurse fears murder at the hands of her brutal husband.  Blending horror with satire, fantasy with haunting truth, Ludmilla Petrushevskaya's newly-translated tales create a cast of unlikely heroines in a carnivalesque world of extremes.  After her work was suppressed for many years, Petrushevskaya won wide recognition for capturing the experiences of everyday Russians with profound pathos and mordant wit.  Among her most famous and controversial works, these three novellas—The Time Is Night, Chocolates with Liqueur, and Among Friends—are modern classics that breathe new life into Tolstoy’s famous dictum, “All happy families are alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”  Together they confirm the genius of an author with a gift for turning adversity into art.  Praise for Ludmilla Petrushevskaya: “This celebrated Russian author is so disquieting that long after Solzhenitsyn had been published in the Soviet Union, her fiction was banned—even though nothing about it screams ‘political’ or ‘dissident’ or anything else.  It just screams.”  (Elle)

If you’d like a chance at winning all three 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 Oct. 30, at which time I’ll draw the winning name.  I’ll announce the lucky reader on Oct. 31.  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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