Sunday, March 17, 2019

Sunday Sentence: Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid


Simply put, the best sentence(s) I’ve read this past week, presented out of context and without commentary.



Daisy was Carole King, she was Laura Nyro. Hell, she could have been Joni Mitchell. And they wanted her to be Olivia Newton-John.

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Saturday, March 16, 2019

A Dead Man’s Books: Jennifer Spiegel’s Library



Reader:  Jennifer Spiegel
Location:  Phoenix, Arizona
Collection Size:  No real clue.
The one book I'd run back into a burning building to rescue:  None. See below. That doesn’t mean that I don’t love them.
Favorite book from childhood:  I actually saved a ton for my kids, but my favorites are the Oz Books by L. Frank Baum. I’m pretty sure they changed my life. I love them so much.
Guilty pleasure book:  Maybe The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. I’ve also been known to read a zombie novel or two, though I think I’ve met my quota and I’m done. Oh, and I like political memoirs. And U2 coffee table books. I see a coffee table book next to me, and it’s about Tiny Houses.


I love my nonsensical, random collection of books. My shelves cannot purport to be a library. That’s too noble. I do, however, have a house full of books.

I had a sobering moment in 2015. In the late spring of that year, I helped my mom pack up and officially downsize. She’d been a widow since 2002, and she had lived in the same house since the seventies. Both of my parents were avid readers (though I spent a great deal of time making fun of my dad’s James Michener habit and all of those Cold War thrillers that were turned into Cold War movies). She was moving to a guest house, and she’d hold onto a handful of books collected over a lifetime.

She picked out her keepers. I scavenged and pulled out a few, like Leon Uris’s QB VII, William Styron’s Sophie’s Choice, and Herman Wouk’s The Winds of War. And then I took boxes and boxes and boxes to sell at a used bookstore. It wasn’t because we didn’t love them; it was because we had no room for them. I must’ve had that Sybil book in there (Flora Rheta Schreiber), and Alex Haley’s Roots. James Clavell’s Shogun. Ken Follett, Mario Puzo, Norman Mailer, John Le CarrĂ©, too. Maybe one woman: The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough. All of these books, these special and beloved books, these demarcations of eras and these veritable points on a map. A lot of my father.

I packed them in boxes.

I loaded them into my car.

I drove to a bookstore.

And they gave me a couple of bucks for them.

That was my sobering moment.

You Can’t Take It With You.

I still keep my books. Most of them, anyway. I still believe in houses full of books. Shelves runneth-ing over. But—and I do not say this lightly—I might value them a little less than I once did. (I might be crying as I write this.)

I will, though, still say this boldly, brazenly: Shame on you if you do not own books.

So, in lieu of a library, I offer you this vision of my shelves.


My beloved travel books, disorganized, with a smattering of others like a Rolling Stone picture book and the scripts to sex, lies, and videotape and Do The Right Thing. That Let’s Go Europe book is from 1990, and readers of my new novel might note its treasured role.



Selected Books-I-Must-Save. Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Salman Rushdie’s Fury and Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment and B.J. Novak’s One More Thing. Please note that Ta-nehisi Coates is next to Rick Springfield. I think that Coates’ book is the definitive book on the Obama years. I can’t explain Rick Springfield (we go back) except to say this:




These are mostly my kids’ books: Harry Potter, Little House on the Prairie, and Oz. Below that are the textbooks from my MA program in International Relations, from my defunct politics days.



And these are books that I will undoubtedly make my kids read. Many classics. A lot of Hemingway. Bleak House. Cry, The Beloved Country. Catch-22. The Good Earth. Wait! And what’s that I see? Mockingjay? (And a little stack of my books.)



My kids. I do not have an Allegiant-thing. Sesame Street, yes. Allegiant, no.



You have the Childcraft books, right? I mean, we all do, yeah?



Miscellaneous! Because sometimes you want poetry and sometimes you want Disney and sometimes you want Leaves of Grass, the Bible, and U2.

I fill shelves. Some of my shelves are from Ikea. Some are from friends who were getting rid of them. Some are nice. We even have a secret door in our house, a passageway.

But when I die, you can take my books. They are yours.


Jennifer Spiegel is mostly a fiction writer with three books and a miscellany of short publications, though she also teaches English and creative writing. She is part of Snotty Literati, a book-reviewing gig, with Lara Smith. She lives with her family in Arizona. More information is available at www.jenniferspiegel.com. And So We Die, Having First Slept, a new novel, is about marriage, youth, middle-age, Gen X, and fidelity. Currently, Spiegel is working on a memoir, Cancer, I'll Give You One Year: A Non-Informative Guide To Breast Cancer, or Cancer, I'll Give You One Year: How To Get Your Ba-Da-Bing Boobies On The House!

My Library is an intimate look at personal book collections.  Readers are encouraged to send high-resolution photos of their home libraries or bookshelves, along with a description of particular shelving challenges, quirks in sorting (alphabetically? by color?), number of books in the collection, and particular titles which are in the To-Be-Read pile.  Email thequiveringpen@gmail.com for more information.


Friday, March 15, 2019

Friday Freebie: Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions and Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna by Mario Giordano


Congratulations to Phil Milio, winner of last week’s Friday Freebie: Bellflower by Mary Vensel White.

It’s Auntie Poldi Week at The Quivering Pen! This week’s giveaway is for two mystery novels by Mario Giordano featuring the Prosecco-loving detective: Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions and Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna. I have a hardcover copy of each novel to give away to one lucky reader. Keep scrolling for more information on the books and how to enter the contest...


The Sicilian Lions: On her sixtieth birthday, Auntie Poldi retires to Sicily, intending to while away the rest of her days with good wine, a view of the sea, and few visitors. But Sicily isn’t quite the tranquil island she thought it would be, and something always seems to get in the way of her relaxation. When her handsome young handyman goes missing—and is discovered murdered—she can’t help but ask questions. Soon there’s an investigation, a smoldering police inspector, a romantic entanglement, one false lead after another, a rooftop showdown, and finally, of course, Poldi herself, slightly tousled but still perfectly poised. This “masterly treat” (Times Literary Supplement) will transport you to the rocky shores of Torre Archirafi, to a Sicily full of quirky characters, scorching days, and velvety nights, alongside a protagonist who’s as fiery as the Sicilian sun.



The Vineyards of Etna: When Prosecco‑loving Auntie Poldi retired to Sicily from Germany, she never dreamed her tranquil days would be interrupted by murder. But Sicily had other plans, and Poldi found herself honor‑bound to solve the disappearance of her beloved (and cute) handyman. Now she’s finally ready for some peace and quiet—interrupted by romantic encounters with handsome Chief Inspector Montana, of course—when the water supply to her neighborhood is cut off and a dear friend’s dog is poisoned, telltale signs that a certain familial organization is flexing its muscles. Poldi knows there will be no resolution without her help. She soon finds a body in a vineyard, tangles with the Mafia, and yet again makes herself unpopular in the pursuit of justice. But once wine and murder mix, how could she possibly stay away? This is a sexy and thrilling follow‑up to Mario Giordano’s debut novel, Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions, hailed by Adriana Trigiani as “an explosion of color [and] a celebration of the palette of Italian life and the Sicilian experience in its specificity, warmth and drama.”

If you’d like a chance at winning the Auntie Poldi books, simply e-mail your name and mailing address to


Put FRIDAY FREEBIE in the e-mail subject line. Please include your mailing address in the body of the e-mail. One entry per person, please. Despite its name, the Friday Freebie remains open to entries until midnight on March 21, at which time I’ll draw the winning name. I’ll announce the lucky reader on March 22. 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 e-mail 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.


Sunday, March 10, 2019

Sunday Sentence: Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky


Simply put, the best sentence(s) I’ve read this past week, presented out of context and without commentary.


In the sixth month
of a disastrous reign in the house of money

in the street of money in the city of money in the country of money,
our great country of money, we (forgive us)

lived happily during the war.

Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky

Friday, March 8, 2019

Friday Freebie: Bellflower by Mary Vensel White


Congratulations to Emma Cazabonne and Martha Burzynski, winners of last week’s Friday Freebie: 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die by James Mustich.

This week’s giveaway is for Bellflower by Mary Vensel White. I have one copy to give away to one lucky reader. Here’s what Deborah Reed, author of The Days When Birds Come Back, had to say about the book: “Told in Vensel White’s dazzling, clear-eyed prose, Bellflower is as sharp as it is nuanced, as nostalgic as it is foretold. These layered stories are filled with a yearning to uncover where the characters have been, and with an openhearted longing, accept all that is still to come. A small gem of a novel, each vignette comes as a surprise, and each is a testament to how, just like in life, everything is woven and fused and pulling toward the other.” Keep scrolling for more information on the book and how to enter the contest...


At a party thrown by his wife’s PTA friend, Glen Hanley makes a reckless choice. Terri Moore’s life has finally settled after an unexpected divorce, until her son reveals stunning news. Elderly and alone, Mrs. Hallowicz finds solace in her flowerbeds and pet turtle, but the pain of a long-buried tragedy threatens to unhinge her. Mary Vensel White’s kaleidoscopic novel-in-moments spans the lifetimes of these three characters and the network of family and friends connecting them. On the shaky ground of California, foundations can suddenly shift. Bellflower is about the mysteries of fate and chance, the delicate balance of relationships, and the resilient human spirit that keeps us striving to complete our own stories, in our own way.

If you missed it earlier at the blog, you can take a tour of Mary’s home library: New House, New Shelves

If you’d like a chance at winning Bellflower, simply e-mail your name and mailing address to


Put FRIDAY FREEBIE in the e-mail subject line. Please include your mailing address in the body of the e-mail. One entry per person, please. Despite its name, the Friday Freebie remains open to entries until midnight on March 14, at which time I’ll draw the winning name. I’ll announce the lucky reader on March 15. 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 e-mail 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.


Wednesday, March 6, 2019

New House, New Shelves: Mary Vensel White’s Library



Reader:  Mary Vensel White
Location:  Southern California
Collection size:  750ish
The one book I’d run back into a burning building to rescue:  I wouldn’t run back into a burning building! As much as I love my books, most are replaceable, one way or another.
Favorite book from childhood:  A four-volume set of illustrated Disney stories
Guilty pleasure book:  Hm. I can’t think of anything in the book department I feel guilty for reading. I do watch a lot of bad television, however.

What I miss most about the house where I lived for almost eight years until this past August are the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves installed at the top of the stairs, in the landing area on the second floor. The space was blank when we bought the house, a perfect place for the shelves, which were white with mustard yellow backing that matched the nearby walls. My entire collection fit on these shelves, along with a column for children’s books (favorite picture books through the Young Adult novels my kids read before they stopped reading outside of school), yearbooks, assorted reference and coffee-table books, and rows of probably way too many photo albums. It wasn’t the first version of my library, but it was the most fully realized. I loved those shelves, loved having my books in one place with room to grow.

I started collecting books as a student. I kept everything: novels and non-fiction but also textbooks, anthologies, dictionaries. Every time I moved—seven times in three states—I faithfully boxed, stacked and unpacked them. There were various arrangements for books in the various homes. Several portable bookshelves followed along from place to place.

The first major culling of the collection happened when my children were very small. I decided to build a three-piece bookshelf from a Home Depot kit for the condo we had just purchased and renovated. While the babies slept, I assembled and painted this thing in the garage: white, with a wine-colored background (I’ve always been a fan of the colorful background). And when it came time to unbox the majority of the library that had been stored since the move, I ended up donating about forty percent of the books. I decided that moving forward, I would only keep books I believed I’d have occasion to re-read or reference in the future, or books I loved, either rationally or irrationally. Most of the school-related books went, also, novels for which my feelings were anything less than deep affection or admiration.


Four more moves in about six more years, and the books came along. Of course, the collection grew, even under the new rules for keeping. One house had a built-in office with two tall shelves; another had shelves in the family room. And then, we found the house where I thought I’d be for a very long time. Maybe, for good.

When I moved to this new place last year, it required another reshaping of the collection. Books of my soon-to-be ex-husband’s that had been part of the library for over two decades were boxed and sent his way. In some cases, ownership wasn’t entirely clear but because I was doing all of the labor, I used my best judgement and perhaps took some liberties.

Two weeks before I moved to this home, my home, I got the keys and began slowly moving things over. First on the list: the library. I took many bags to Goodwill. I packed up books that had been on my To Read pile for much too long. I got rid of books for which my affection had waned over the years. I moved box after box to the new house, lined the books up along the walls of my bright, spacious bedroom. And on a sunny day, I paid an installer to put together three new shelves—two for the landing at the top of this second floor, one for the crowded but cozy corner of my bedroom which serves as my office.

This library is a pared-down, leaner, much less concentrated and more mobile version of its former self. On the landing are mostly novels and just two shelves for children’s books from middle grade to present. The picture books and most of the photo albums are stacked in plastic bins in the garage, no room for them here. Next to my desk are literary theory and poetry, spiritual books, history and biography, books on writing, miscellaneous others. My new, smaller To Read pile is probably still too unwieldy.


Downstairs, a glass-enclosed bookshelf houses the coffee table books and a series about art that belonged to my mother. Also, that Disney set from childhood. On this home’s only built-in shelves, above a desk set off from the living room, you’ll find anthologies and collections, leather-bound classics I also brought from my mother’s house when we cleared out her library after she passed last year.

It occurs to me that my library, in its current incarnation, is a spread-out, breathing, but non-permanent thing. I think about a scene from my favorite movie, Moonstruck, when Loretta’s father says the pinky ring her fiancĂ© has given her looks stupid. She says “It’s temporary!” and he fires back “Everything is temporary!” But I like the feeling of having my books settled into places, even if it’s several places, even if perhaps this newest arrangement is also quite temporary. The books are not. They have been with me through everything. They live on their shelves and in me, no matter where we find ourselves next.


Mary Vensel White is a graduate of the University of Denver and DePaul University. Her writing has appeared in Catapult, The Rumpus, The Wisconsin Review, Author Magazine, and other places, and she is a contributing editor at LitChat.com, and owner of TypeEighteenEditing.com. Her debut novel, The Qualities of Wood, was the first book published under HarperCollins’ Authonomy imprint. Her second novel, Bellflower, was published this year. Here’s what Deborah Reed, author of The Days When Birds Come Back, had to say about Bellflower: “A small gem of a novel, each vignette comes as a surprise, and each is a testament to how, just like in life, everything is woven and fused and pulling toward the other.” Mary Vensel White lives in southern California with her four children. Click here to visit her website.

My Library is an intimate look at personal book collections.  Readers are encouraged to send high-resolution photos of their home libraries or bookshelves, along with a description of particular shelving challenges, quirks in sorting (alphabetically? by color?), number of books in the collection, and particular titles which are in the To-Be-Read pile.  Email thequiveringpen@gmail.com for more information.


Sunday, March 3, 2019

Sunday Sentence: Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown


Simply put, the best sentence(s) I’ve read this past week, presented out of context and without commentary.


Goodnight nobody
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

Saturday, March 2, 2019

I've Been Meaning to Talk to You About Procrastination



I.

In the past three weeks, I have written one book, begun work on another, and cranked out three short stories, not to mention all those stanzas of poetry. It is some of the most brilliant writing I’ve ever done.

It’s all been in my head.

I have composed sentences, strung together into paragraphs, running the full length to pages, but they are all invisible, all silent words tumbling like avalanche snowflakes in my snow-globe skull. As I shower, as I drive the icy streets of Butte, as I half-listen to conference calls at work, I am all the time writing. My head is florid with language.

This is merely half-writing, the first stage of art. I don’t, as they say, bring it to closure. The sentences too-rarely make their way to page or screen. This is the worst of procrastination: the mental doesn’t have the mettle to become material.

But lately, I’ve been wondering something. It’s a cute little newborn thought, not yet strong enough to leave the nest, but I gave it a good ponder and then jotted a few thoughts in my journal (hey, actual writing!):
       If I think of a sentence, compose a really good one in my head, but never write it down, is it still art? If so, is that art appreciated by an audience of one (me), or does it continue to toll, like the lingering hum of a struck bell, somewhere else? Is there someplace invisible to us—call it heaven, call it death—where all the words we’ve ever thought live as unrecorded art? I like to think of my scraps of writing flying through the air of heaven, bright as butterflies, swift as swallows.
       By this point in our earth’s age, it should be painfully obvious to us that all of our so-called art—the paintings, the books, even the music which has a physical presence in the air—all of it is temporal and already in a state of decomposition even as it’s being created. Nothing on earth will survive forever, so what does the act of physically creating an already-rotting piece of art say about us? Is art just a self-congratulatory statue to ourselves and we just fail to notice the rust flecks appearing at the base? Since all art begins invisibly, within the artist, maybe that’s all that’s needed; maybe it’s okay for some art to remain invisible, silent, abstract. I mean, if art falls to the forest floor and no one is around to hear it, is it still art?
       But maybe, just maybe, our art-thoughts live forever in the Other Place; maybe, just maybe, thinking a good artful sentence is as valid as writing it down. Maybe, just maybe, the skies of heaven are full of word-birds and we’re able to see and feel and hear Art all the rest of our days in that eternal aviary.
       This is not an argument for me not writing, but you have to admit that it gives a glimmer of hope for us procrastinators and do-nothingers.

And then, not five minutes after I typed those words, I picked up my current poetry book (New Poets of England and America), and read this poem by the never-heard-of-before poet Wesley Trimpi (“To Giotto”):
                 And must
The paint which holds your thought,
Dissolving flake by flake
To dust, now join your dust
In final dissolution?
You hoped too much to make
These figures always stay
Ageless and calm, for now
Even your blues and greens
Cause meaning to decay,
And none can comprehend
What dissolution means.


II.

I have been listening to Dani Shapiro’s memoir Devotion (read by the author) on audiobook. I’ve been enriched by her thoughtful, artful account of her spiritual quest. It has touched me as a father, a husband, a once-devout Christian, and as a writer. I promise you this: pick up any book by Dani Shapiro and you will be rewarded with sentences, paragraphs, and pages that pop like fireworks in both the head and the soul.

Today, Dani read more of her book to me and spoke these words straight to my heart, my terrible awful procrastinating heart that always does its best to clog that spot between my head and body:
       Writers often say that the hardest part of writing isn’t the writing itself; it’s the sitting down to write. The same is true of yoga, meditation, and prayer. The sitting down, the making space. The doing. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Unroll the mat. Sit cross-legged on the floor. Just do it. Close your eyes and express a silent need, a wish, a moment of gratitude. What’s so hard about that? Except—it is hard. The usual distractions—the clutter and piles of life—are suddenly, unusually enticing. The worst of it, I’ve come to realize, is that the thing that stops me—the shadow that casts a cold darkness across the best of my intentions—isn’t the puppy, the e-mail, the UPS truck, the school conference, the phone, the laundry, the to-do lists. It’s me that stops me. Things get stuck, the osteopath once said with a shrug. He gestured to the area where the neck meets the head. The place where the body ends and the mind begins. Things get stuck. It sounded so simple when he said it. It’s me, and the things that are stuck. Standing in my way.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get out of my own way...


Friday, March 1, 2019

Friday Freebie: 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die by James Mustich


Congratulations to Lisa Murray, winner of last week’s Friday Freebie: And So We Die, Having First Slept by Jennifer Spiegel.

I’m pleased to announce this week’s giveaway is for my current (and long-lasting) reading obsession: 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die by James Mustich. I have two signed copies to give away to two lucky readers. This week’s book is subtitled A Life-Changing List and I can vouch for that to be true: 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die has already begun to improve my life in the four months I’ve been reading it. More on my love for the book below....


From the first of what I hope to be many blog posts about 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die (but I have to admit, I have a pretty poor track record so far), here are a few words about my trip through the book....

Another book telling us what books to read? Sigh. Yes, yes, yes, we live in a list-obsessed Buzzfeed culture these days, and certainly there are already plenty of “books to read before you die” lists floating around out there (How many have you read? Take our quiz now!), and I am hardly the last one to preach about the saintliness of not wasting time on obsessively counting how many books one has and hasn’t read. Hell, this blog is, in one sense, an ongoing summation of my reading habits. I love to tally. And then, too, there is an undeniable authoritarian nature of lists in general: you must read these! We feel sadly incomplete if we don’t score at least 90 on those quizzes. Or maybe that’s just me.

Having said all that, I have happily embraced falling into the thick-paged delights of 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die. On October 31, 2018, I embarked on the kilo-volume journey, working my way, one book per day, through Mustich’s list. That puts me at a target date of July 27, 2021 for finishing this book (Note to Future Nitpickers: please don’t hold me accountable to that exact date; I need a little wiggle room for the interruptions of life, as well as the potential for burnout around the letter F). There is also the possibility that I’ll die before finishing this book. C’est la vie, shrugs the reader who, as he gets older, has found himself accelerating his reading speed in order to, impossibly, Read All the Books before he hits the grave.

I am four months into this 1,000 Books project (which you can follow on a daily basis on Instagram and Facebook) and I can say, unequivocally, that it is a pleasure to learn. Every day, I discover something new, or am reminded of the pleasures of books I’ve already read.

1,000 Books to Die Before You Read is organized alphabetically by the author’s last name, starting with Edward Abbey (Desert Solitaire) and wrapping up 900 pages later with Carl Zuckmayer (A Part of Myself). There are 948 books which get individual entries; the other 52 are mentioned in the endnotes “More to Explore” and “Booknotes.” Selecting the titles could not have been easy: a combination Herculean and Sisyphean task, to be sure. As Mustich writes in his Introduction:
A book about 1,000 books could take so many different shapes. It could be a canon of classics; it could be a history of human thought and a tour of its significant disciplines; it might be a record of popular delights (or even delusions). But the crux of the difficulty was a less complicated truth: Readers read in so many different ways, any one standard of measure is inadequate. No matter their pedigree, inveterate readers read the way they eat: for pleasure as well as nourishment, indulgence as much as well-being, and sometimes for transcendence. Hot dogs one day, haute cuisine the next.
Haute dog challenge accepted, Mr. Mustich!

Click here to read more of that blog post, which includes mention of my own Reading Essentials list.

You’ll be just as happy as my cat Ember to get 1,000 Books in the mail

If you’d like a chance at winning 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die, simply e-mail your name and mailing address to


Put FRIDAY FREEBIE in the e-mail subject line. Please include your mailing address in the body of the e-mail. One entry per person, please. Despite its name, the Friday Freebie remains open to entries until midnight on March 7, at which time I’ll draw the winning name. I’ll announce the lucky reader on March 8. 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 e-mail 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.


Sunday, February 24, 2019

Sunday Sentence: O Yes by Tillie Olsen


Simply put, the best sentence(s) I’ve read this past week, presented out of context and without commentary.


Exultant spirals of sound.
“O Yes” from Tell Me a Riddle by Tillie Olsen

Friday, February 22, 2019

Friday Freebie: And So We Die, Having First Slept by Jennifer Spiegel


Congratulations to Julie Geisler, winner of last week’s Friday Freebie: Midnight by Victoria Shorr.

This week’s giveaway is for And So We Die, Having First Slept by Jennifer Spiegel (author of The Freak Chronicles and Love Slave). Here’s what Tim Horvath, author of Understories, had to say about the new book: “Jennifer Spiegel’s much-anticipated second novel teems with intelligence and candor, assuredly. But oh, more than that, even, it’s that voiceit darts, it vamps, it dives, and most of all it scrutinizes, squarely, head-on, witty and withering. In this multitudinous soliloquy of a book, we get the relentless quest of a self-determined to narrate itself into being and becoming. Devour it; I did.”

Keep scrolling for more information and how to enter the contest...


And So We Die, Having First Slept is a novel about marriage, youth, middle-age, Gen X, and fidelity. Brett is older than Cash by a decade; both are world-wearyone from negotiating brain trauma and rehab and the absence of pretty boys, the other from addiction and road trips and even a Billy Graham crusade. Bath salts and babies work on their ten-year relationship, forcing them to begin again one way or another.

While you’re waiting to see if you won the contest, be sure to check out Jennifer’s essay in the My First Time series (hers is called Not My First Time).

If you’d like a chance at winning And So We Die, Having First Slept, simply email your name and mailing address to


Put FRIDAY FREEBIE in the e-mail subject line. Please include your mailing address in the body of the e-mail. One entry per person, please. Despite its name, the Friday Freebie remains open to entries until midnight on Feb. 28, at which time I’ll draw the winning name. I’ll announce the lucky reader on March 1. 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.