Friday, May 6, 2016

Friday Freebie: They Could Live With Themselves by Jodi Paloni

Congratulations to Lisa Grimes, winner of last week’s Friday Freebie contest: Relief Map by Rosalie Knecht and Montauk by Max Frisch.

This week’s book giveaway is a signed copy of Jodi Paloni’s debut short story collection, They Could Live With Themselves. I’m about halfway through reading my own copy of the book and so far I am completely absorbed with the lives of Paloni’s deeply-etched characters who live in Stark Run, Vermont. Paloni writes with the confident pen of someone who has three or four books under her belt rather than this singular and outstanding debut. I highly recommend They Could Live With Themselves to anyone looking for new fiction they can read in short, delicious sips. Here’s what others have to say about the book...

They Could Live with Themselves will immerse you in the private lives behind the postcard scenes of a New England town. Reminiscent of Amy Bloom and Charles Baxter, Jodi Paloni is an eloquent and deeply humane writer with her ear tuned to the quiet, pivotal moments in her characters’ lives. The unsung and the unseen; the decent and the petty: the characters in these interwoven stories will remind you of people you know, and of yourself, at your most tender.
       (Alexis M. Smith, author of Marrow Island)

In They Could Live with Themselves, Jodi Paloni reflects on loss and regret, almost as if they were a pair of spinster sisters who move from house to house in Stark Run, Vermont, dwelling intimately with its residents. Throughout these wise stories, Paloni demonstrates the human ability to continue on in the face of the unexpected, or more often, the expected, the inevitable, the routine. Her prose reflects her Vermont setting: sparse, restrained, with bursts of beauty and emotional resonance. Her characters—teachers and students, business owners and artists—surprise themselves (and us) with realizations that, quite often, arrive late, but never—Paloni assures us—too late. She writes with compassion and subtlety, reminding us of the ways that we are all connected and the ways that we must each, alone, learn to live with ourselves.
       (Lori Ostlund, author of The Bigness of the World)

In the final story of Jodi Paloni’s They Could Live with Themselves, a young man who aspires to be a photographer decides “to do a series, tell a story” in “twelve images” and “invite his audience to feel.” That’s exactly what Paloni does in this masterly collection of linked stories. In the course of eleven stories set in fictional Stark Run, Vermont, she introduces us to an astonishingly wide range of characters and makes us feel deeply about them and their desires, their fears, their joys, and their sorrows. The town and its people come so utterly to life that no matter where you’re from you’ll feel like you’re home. Stark Run may not appear on any of Rand McNally’s maps, but it’s an important addition to America’s literary map, one that ranks up there with the likes of Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio, and Elizabeth Strout’s Crosby, Maine. I suggest that you visit Stark Run, and soon. If you do, you may leave it, but it and its characters will never leave you.
       (David Jauss, author of Glossolalia)

In case you missed it earlier at the blog, be sure to check out Jodi’s account of her “first time.”

If you’d like a chance at winning a signed copy of They Could Live With Themselves, simply email your name and mailing address to

Put FRIDAY FREEBIE in the e-mail subject line. Please include your mailing address in the body of the e-mail. One entry per person, please. Despite its name, the Friday Freebie runs all week long and remains open to entries until midnight on May 12, at which time I’ll draw the winning names. I’ll announce the lucky readers on May 13. 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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