Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Freebie: Spectacle by Susan Steinberg

Congratulations to Jodi Paloni, winner of last week's Friday Freebie: The Round House by Louise Erdrich.

This week's book giveaway is Spectacle by Susan Steinberg, a collection of short stories freshly-published by the fine folks at Graywolf Press.  Publishers Weekly had this to say about the book: “Experimental but never opaque, Steinberg’s stories seethe with real and imagined menace.”  For me, that sense of menace begins on the front cover with that skewed-perspective photo of a whirling carnival ride.  Call me a weenie, but that cover design never fails to freak me out.  Most of the stories come to us in one-sentence paragraphs--short lines that look like poetry on the page. Other stories do the opposite--they're one long sentence glued together with semi-colons (which also begin and end the story).  Here are the opening lines from "Superstar," the first story in the collection:
       I once hung out with this shit group of kids and they were just such shit.
       This to say I made some mistakes.
       Like breaking into this one guy's car.
       Like stealing the stereo out of that car.
       I was young and I didn't steal the stereo because I wanted the stereo.
       I stole it, rather, because I wanted the guy.
Here's more about the book from the publisher's jacket copy:
In these innovative linked stories, women confront loss and grief as they sift through the wreckage of their lives. In the title story, a woman struggles with the death of her friend in a plane crash. A daughter decides whether to take her father off life support in the Pushcart Prize-winning “Cowboys.” And in “Underthings,” when a man hits his girlfriend, she calls it an accident. Spectacle bears witness to alarming and strange incidents: carnival rides and plane crashes, affairs spied through keyholes and amateur porn, vandalism and petty theft. These wounded women stand at the edge of disaster and risk it all to speak their sharpest secrets. In lean, acrobatic prose, Susan Steinberg subverts assumptions about narrative and challenges conventional gender roles. She delivers insight with a fierce lyric intensity in sentences shorn of excessive sentiment or unnecessary ornament. By fusing style and story, Steinberg amplifies the connections between themes and characters so that each devastating revelation echoes throughout the collection. A vital and turbulent book from a distinctive voice, Spectacle will break your heart, and then, before the last page is turned, will bind it up anew.

If you'd like a chance at winning a copy of Spectacle, all you have to do is 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 Jan. 17at which time I'll draw the winning name.  I'll announce the lucky reader on Jan. 18.  If you'd like to join the mailing list for the once-a-week Quivering Pen 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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