Friday, November 20, 2015

Friday Freebie: People Like You by Margaret Malone

Congratulations to Sherry Devlin, winner of last week’s Friday Freebie, the Big Box o’ Books which contains the following titles: Let Me Be Frank With You by Richard Ford, Preparation for the Next Life by Atticus Lish, Rooms by Lauren Oliver, The Story of Land and Sea by Katy Simpson Smith, Ten Thousand Saints by Eleanor Henderson, The Sisters Club by Lauren Baratz-Logsted, Say Yes to the Death by Susan McBride, Clinton, Inc.: The Audacious Rebuilding of a Political Machine by Daniel Halper, The Visitors by Sally Beauman, Gutenberg’s Apprentice by Alix Christie, Acts of God by Ellen Gilchrist, Sidney Sheldon’s Reckless by Tilly Bagshawe, and The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson. Sherry has some great reading ahead of her this winter.

This week’s book giveaway is the new short story collection People Like You by Margaret Malone. People, people, people: I can’t say enough good things about People! I’m only three stories in, but I can tell you this is, beyond a doubt, some of the best fiction I’ve read all year--short or otherwise. As I Tweeted last night:

In fact, rather than break the Sunday Sentence rules of sticking to just one “best” sentence of the week, why don’t I just give you my favorite sentences now from that one story, “Yes,” as found in People Like You? Here they are, starting with the story’s opening line:
     Chuck rings the doorbell and I have my luggage all ready set go by the front door but when I let him in, instead of reaching for my suitcase, Chuck kneels on the hard tile in the entryway and says will you marry me and so I say all right: Chuck’s mom Gladys is watching the whole thing from her car right out front, engine idling, window rolled down, extra long cigarette burning between two straight fingers. After that I yell goodbye to my dad who says bye back but doesn’t come out of the garage to say it, then Chuck helps me squeeze my suitcase and backpack into the crammed trunk of his mom’s car and slam the lid shut. And we’re off.
     So now I’m engaged. I am reserved, like a table at a restaurant.

     Gladys smokes like it was just invented, brand new and full of possibility.

     Reno is a smudge of tallish buildings and neon-signed casinos, dry desert mountains all around. It’s almost a tiny Vegas but feels unfinished, like someone took a lunch break in the middle of building it and never came back.

     If I could propose, what I’d want to marry is that feeling I feel when Chuck and I are riding fast on his bike, winding our way up the forested incline, our bodies intuitively leaning left and right with the weight of the beautiful machinery underneath us, the two-lane road all ours except for the passing of the occasional car headed in the opposite direction and oh how we feel sorry for them, those passengers, they do not know what they’re missing, the warm air against my bare shoulders, the streams of sunlight sneaking through the heavy pines, the smell of dusty heat and warmed pavement and the cool damp of the forest floor, my arms wrapped around Chuck, my smile so wide I have to tuck my face into his shoulder so I don’t swallow air, my whole body, each cell, singing with the abandon of being part of every single thing.

So there you have it: some random, out-of-context sentences which should give you a taste of what’s on these pages. I have to agree with Tom Spanbauer, author of I Loved You More, when he says, “There are moments in Margaret Malone’s collection People Like You when it’s hard to breathe. Because People Like You are people a lot like you, disturbingly so: awkward, petty, flawed, full of hope and monotony, yearning. Malone is a master of the minimal....Whether it’s a dying mother at a slot machine, a drinking pregnant mother stalking sex offenders, or a husband who’s having his prostate checked—every story is flawlessly told, the reader brought to the knees again and again by luxurious moments of intimacy and estrangement....And did I mention hilarious? Don’t let these wonderful stories pass you up. Margaret Malone is a name that will soon be up there with the best and brightest.”

In case you missed it earlier at the blog, check out Margaret’s account of her “first time” and the trailer for the new book.

If you’d like a chance at winning a signed copy of People Like You, 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 Nov. 26, at which time I’ll draw the winning name. I’ll announce the lucky reader on Nov. 27. 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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