Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Freebie: My Life as a Foreign Country by Brian Turner

Congratulations to Jane Rainey, winner of last week's Friday Freebie: The Witch's Boy by Kelly Barnhill and Somebody Up There Hates You by Hollis Seamon.

This week's book giveaway is extra-special.  Brian Turner's new memoir, My Life as a Foreign Country, is simply one of the best books I've read this year.  Here's my mini-review which was posted earlier at Book Riot:
Near the end of this gut-honest memoir about his time in Iraq, Brian Turner writes: “America, vast and laid out from one ocean to another, is not a large enough space to contain the war each soldier brings home.” Likewise, this book and its 224 pages probably cannot hold all the rampaging emotions of Turner’s war experience, but damn if he doesn’t spill a lot of emotional blood in the course of these 136 short chapters. As anyone who has read Turner’s two collections of poetry (Here, Bullet and Phantom Noise) will tell you, he’s able to turn even the most horrific topics–death, dismemberment, post-traumatic nightmares–into things of linguistic beauty. In My Life as a Foreign Country, he once again brings the war home to us. Are we bold enough to hold his words?
I'll try to have a longer review here at The Quivering Pen before too long.  In the meantime, I'm happy to announce I've got four copies of My Life as a Foreign Country to give away to four lucky readers.  Here's more about the memoir from the publisher's jacket copy:
In 2003, Sergeant Brian Turner crossed the line of departure with a convoy of soldiers headed into the Iraqi desert. Now he lies awake each night beside his sleeping wife, imagining himself as a drone aircraft, hovering over the terrains of Bosnia and Vietnam, Iraq and Northern Ireland, the killing fields of Cambodia and the death camps of Europe. In this breathtaking memoir, award-winning poet Brian Turner retraces his war experience pre-deployment to combat zone, homecoming to aftermath. Free of self-indulgence or self-glorification, his account combines recollection with the imagination's efforts to make reality comprehensible. Across time, he seeks parallels in the histories of others who have gone to war, especially his taciturn grandfather (World War II), father (Cold War), and uncle (Vietnam). Turner also offers something that is truly rare in a memoir of violent conflict he sees through the eyes of the enemy, imagining his way into the experience of the "other." Through it all, he paints a devastating portrait of what it means to be a soldier and a human being.
Here's more praise from others who have read early copies of this incredible book (which is currently a Barnes & Noble Discover New Writers pick):

Tim O'Brien:My Life as a Foreign Country is brilliant and beautiful.  It surely ranks with the best war memoirs I've ever encountered—a humane, heartbreaking, and expertly crafted work of literature.”

Nick Flynn: “Turner's voice is prophetic, an eerie calm in the midst of calamity…Achingly, disturbingly, shockingly beautiful.”

Benjamin Busch: “A brilliant fever dream of war's surreality, its lastingness, its place in families and in the fate of nations.  Each sentence has been carefully measured, weighed with loss and vitality, the hard-earned language of a survivor who has seen the world destroyed and written it back to life.  This is a profound and beautiful work of art.”

Kirkus Reviews: “In his surpassingly sad and disquieting memoir, poet Turner has rendered an unusual anomaly: cogent delirium.  Some have said a poet should join astronauts in space so we could know what it's really like.  In Turner, we have sent a poet to war, and we are much closer to knowing its kaleidoscopic face; as profound sympathy washes over the reader, so does the war's horror.  Alternately stark and surreal, Turner's chronicle is a textured confluence of the ages, connected by classic verse, history and arresting metaphor.  He surveys a landscape of ghosts from all of humanity's wars, wraiths who walk the streets and battlefields and rise like mist from the rivers.”

Click here to follow Brian Turner on Facebook.  Click here to visit his website.

If you’d like a chance at being one of four winners in this week's Friday Freebie, 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 Sept. 25, at which time I’ll draw the winning name.  I’ll announce the lucky reader on Sept. 26.  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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