Sunday, September 07, 2008

Win a Signed Copy of Matrimony

One of my favorite books from 2007, Joshua Henkin's Matrimony, is now out in a new paperback edition and I have some good news for you guys. Mr. Henkin has kindly offered to send a signed copy of the book's new edition to one lucky Book Chase reader and I'm going to keep the contest really simple. All you have to do to enter is leave me a comment saying why the book appeals to you. I reviewed the book last October and still consider it to be one of my better surprises of the year, so I'm pleased to be able to offer one of you the chance to experience Matrimony for yourself.

For an even better idea of what Matrimony is all about take a look at this nicely done YouTube video in which Joshua is interviewed about the book and talks about some of the similarities between his own writing experiences and those of one of his main characters.

One of the best things about writing a book blog (and reading so many great book blogs every day, like I do) is the chance to discover titles that would have otherwise just slipped through the cracks of my life, never making a blip, as if they had never been written. I'm one of those guys who distrust bestseller lists because of the way they encourage everyone to read the same ten or twenty books as if nothing else is worthy of their attention. It's all part of the great "dumbing down of America" that irritates me so much. Book blogs, for the most part, are the opposite of bestseller lists in that bloggers tend to get much more excited about books that don't hit the big lists at all, be they debut novels, books from small publishers, or simply books that excite us for lots of personal reasons.

Mr. Henkin has written an interesting piece about his experience with book groups since the publication of Matrimony and mentions just how difficult it is for a book to get anyone's attention in today's consumer culture:
Finally, if I were a benign despot I’d make a rule that no book can be chosen if over half the members of the group have already heard of it. This would take care of the biggest problem I’ve seen among book groups, which is that everyone’s reading the same twelve books. Eat, Pray, Love. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter. Water for Elephants. Kite Runner. I’m not criticizing these books, some of which I haven’t even read. I’m simply saying that there are a lot of great books out there that people don’t know about. There is a feast-or-famine culture in the world of books (just as in the world of non-books), such that fewer and fewer books have more and more readers. This is not the fault of book groups but is a product of a broader and more worrisome problem, brought on by (among other things) the decline of the independent bookstore and the decrease in book review pages. For that reason, it has become harder and harder for all but a handful of books to get the attention they deserve.
So here's your chance to give a worthy book some of the attention it deserves. Just leave a comment here and I'll do a random number drawing on Friday to choose the lucky winner. Good luck.
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