Friday, July 5, 2013

Friday Freebie: Me and the Devil by Nick Tosches, The Distracted Preacher by Thomas Hardy, Float by JoeAnn Hart, Pretty Much True by Kristen Tsetsi, and Kingdom Come by J. G. Ballard

Congratulations to Vanessa Blakeslee, winner of last week's Friday Freebie: A Nearly Perfect Copy by Allison Amend.

This week's book giveaway is a mega-huge grab-bag of some excellent books which have been waiting patiently for their turn to step into the Friday Freebie spotlight. All are new, unread copies and all are paperback, with the exception of Me and the Devil, which is a hardcover. One lucky reader will win all of the following books: Me and the Devil by Nick Tosches, The Distracted Preacher by Thomas Hardy (part of the Art of the Novella from the good people at Melville House), Float by JoeAnn Hart, Pretty Much True... by Kristen J. Tsetsi, and Kingdom Come by J. G. Ballard.

In the past, Nick Tosches has written music-industry biographies of crooners like Dean Martin and Jerry Lee Lewis.  Here, he takes on someone a little different, a little darker. Me and the Devil's plot goes something like this:
An aging New Yorker, a writer named Nick, feels life ebbing out of him. The world has gone to hell and Nick is so sick of it all that he can't even have a glass of champagne. Then one night he meets a tantalizing young woman who agrees to come back to his apartment. Their encounter is the most strangely extraordinary of his life. Propelled by uncontrollable, primordial desires, he enters a new and unimagined dimension of the forbidden and is filled with a sexual and spiritual ecstasy that is as intense as it is unholy. Suddenly Nick's senses are alive. He feels strong, unconquerable, beyond all inhibition and earthly morality. He indulges in life's pleasures, pure and perverse, sublime and dangerous, from the delicate flavors of the perfect tomato to the fleshy beauty of a woman's thigh. But Nick's desire to sustain his rapture leads him to a madness and a darkness far greater and dreadful than have ever ridden the demon mares of night. Writing in a lineage that includes Dante, William S. Burroughs, Charles Bukowski, Hubert Selby, Jr., and Hunter S. Thompson, Nick Tosches may be America's last real literary outlaw-a fearless, uncensorable seeker of our deepest secret truths and desires, from the basest to the most beautiful. Me and the Devil is outrageous, disturbing, and brilliant, a raw and blazing novel truly unlike any other.

Thomas Hardy's 1879 novella The Distracted Preacher is an uncharacteristically comic tale, but yet still retains Hardy's trademark social commentary bite.  Here's the plot synopsis:
When young Mr. Stockdale arrives in a small village to fill in for the Methodist minister, he finds himself pining for his comely new landlady. But she leads a mysterious life, keeping odd hours and speaking in hushed tones. As his love for her grows, he’s soon at the center of a hilarious high-stakes adventure, complete with slapstick, hijinks, and a marauding band of cross-dressers. And he’s forced to choose: follow his heart or his higher purpose?
By the way, I highly recommend subscribing to Melville House's Art of the Novella series.  Each month, you'll receive two novellas by authors like Jane Austen, Mark Twain, Willa Cather, F. Scott Fitzgerald and others.  The print versions are beautiful to look at, beautiful to hold, and beautiful to read.

Float by JoeAnn Hart is a satirical look at family, the environment, and life in a hardscrabble seaside town in Maine:
When everything around you is sinking, sometimes it takes desperate measures to stay afloat. When Duncan Leland looks down at the garbage-strewn beach beneath his office window, he sees the words God Help Us scrawled in the sand. While it seems a fitting message-not only is Duncan's business underwater, but his marriage is drowning as well-he goes down to the beach to erase it. Once there, he helps a seagull being strangled by a plastic six-pack holder-the only creature in worse shape than he is at the moment. Duncan rescues the seagull, not realizing that he's being filmed by a group of conceptual artists and that the footage will soon go viral, turning both him and the gull into minor celebrities. And when an unsavory yet very convincing local, Osbert Marpol, talks him into a not-quite-legitimate loan arrangement, Duncan can't help but agree in a last-ditch attempt to save the jobs of his employees. For a while, it seems as if things are finally looking up for Duncan-yet between his phone-sex-entrepreneur ex-girlfriend's very public flirtations and the ever-mysterious terms of his new loan, Duncan realizes that there's no such thing as strings-free salvation-and that it's only a matter of time before the tide rises ominously around him again. A wry tale of financial desperation, conceptual art, insanity, infertility, seagulls, marital crisis, jellyfish, organized crime, and the plight of a plastic-filled ocean.

Pretty Much True... is a new novel about the lingering effects of war on those who fight and those who greet them upon their return.  Here's what Caroline Leavitt had to say about Kristen Tsetsi's novel: "Hauntingly spare and shimmeringly powerful, Tsetsi's book does what the best books do--it hurls you into a world you may only think you know or understand, and makes it living, breathing and absolutely engrossing." Here's the plot synopsis:
"I smell yoru shirt sometimes, but not foten," Mia writes, those slurred keyboard strokes the only connection to her deployed boyfriend, whom she sees everywhere and nowhere in their small military town. A former English professor, Mia passes the time working as a cab driver, mulling over the intricacies of her encounters with others who are affected by the war: her dramatic future mother in-law, who eats bad news for breakfast; a charismatic alcoholic who may have been a medic in Vietnam; a pragmatic but secretive longtime Army wife; and a soldier who found a way to stay home. Pretty Much True... is the war story that's seldom told-the loss and love in every hour of deployment, and a painfully intimate portrait of lives spent waiting in the spaces between.

Kingdom Come is J. G. Ballard's last novel, published in 2006, three years before his death. If you've never read any of Ballard's books (which also include Empire of the Sun and Crash), this might be the place to start.  (Please note: the cover pictured at right is different than the paperback version up for grabs.)  The story, in summary:
A violent novel filled with insidious twists, Kingdom Come follows the exploits of Richard Pearson, a rebellious, unemployed advertising executive, whose father is gunned down by a deranged mental patient in a vast shopping mall outside Heathrow Airport. When the prime suspect is released without charge, Richard’s suspicions are aroused. Investigating the mystery, Richard uncovers at the Metro-Centre mall a neo-fascist world whose charismatic spokesperson is whipping up the masses into a state of unsustainable frenzy. Riots frequently terrorize the complex, immigrant communities are attacked by hooligans, and sports events mushroom into jingoistic political rallies. In this gripping, dystopian tour de force, J.G. Ballard holds up a mirror to suburban mind rot, revealing the darker forces at work beneath the gloss of consumerism and flag-waving patriotism.

If you'd like a chance at winning the aforementioned books, 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 July 11, at which time I'll draw the winning name.  I'll announce the lucky reader on July 12.  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.

1 comment:

  1. Please consider this comment my entry. I'm not sure if this is the correct way to enter, but I'd love the books!