Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Freebie: Fiction Ruined My Family by Jeanne Darst

Congratulations to Teresa Lukey, winner of last week's Friday Freebie: Crimes in Southern Indiana: Stories by Frank Bill.

This week's book giveaway is the new memoir by Jeanne Darst, Fiction Ruined My Family from Riverhead Books.  I've previously highlighted Fiction Ruined My Family at the blog and if you click here you can find the witty, zing-y opening lines.  Ira Glass, host of This American Life (where portions of Darst's story first aired), had this to say about it:  "Fiction Ruined My Family had me laughing out loud, which I almost never do, with one jaw-dropping scene after another. On nearly every page there's some sentence that's so perfect, in an old-school Oscar Wilde/Dorothy Parker sort of way, that it made everything I've ever written or said seem like dull, drunken mumbling."  Here's the Jacket Copy for the book:
The youngest of four daughters in an old, celebrated St. Louis family of prominent journalists and politicians on one side, debutante balls and equestrian trophies on the other, Jeanne Darst grew up hearing stories of past grandeur. And as a young girl, the message she internalized was clear: while things might be a bit tight for us right now, it's only temporary. Soon her father would sell the Great American Novel and reclaim the family's former glory. The family uproots and moves from St. Louis to New York. Jeanne's father writes one novel, and then another, which don't find publishers. This, combined with her mother's burgeoning alcoholism--nightly booze- fueled weepathons reminiscing about her fancy childhood--lead to financial disaster and divorce. And as Jeanne becomes an adult, she is horrified to discover that she is not only a drinker like her mother, but a writer like her father. At first, and for years, she embraces both--living in an apartment with no bathroom, stealing food from her babysitting gigs, and raising rent money by riding the subway topless, or performing her one woman show in her living room. Until gradually, she realizes that this life has not been thrust on her in some handing-down-of-the-writing-mantle-way. She has chosen it; and until she can stop putting drinking and writing ahead of everything else, it's a questionable choice. She writes, "For a long time I was worried about becoming my father. Then I was worried about becoming my mother. Now I was worried about becoming myself." Ultimately, Jeanne sets out to discover if a person can have the writing without the ruin, if it's possible to be both sober and creative, ambitious and happy, a professional author and a parent.

If you'd like a chance at winning a copy of this seriously funny book, all you have to do is answer this question:

According to her website, Darst's plays have been performed in her living room in Brooklyn, an eco-resort in Hawaii and a  _______  in Vermont.

Email your answer to

Put FRIDAY FREEBIE in the e-mail subject line.  One entry per person, please.  Please e-mail me the answer, rather than posting it in the comments section.  Despite its name, the Friday Freebie runs all week long and remains open to entries until midnight on Oct. 20--at which time I'll draw the winning name.  I'll announce the lucky reader on Oct. 21.

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