“At work Veronique made a point of not mentioning that she had killed Princess Diana at the weekend. She had practised not mentioning it as she took César for his morning walk, and all the way to the office – on the street and in the Métro. She decided that the best strategy would be to not say anything at all, in a case a confession were to slip out by mistake, like the time she had meant to discreetly clear her throat in a restaurant and ended up coughing an oyster into the middle of the cheese board.”
– The Little White Car, Danuta de Rhodes
After his third book Timoleon Vieta Come Home a few years ago, one of my favourite authors declared that he would never write another. I was unsurprisingly rather dismayed, but hoped that some miraculous change of heart might come some day.
As things turned out, I ended up getting a rather more miraculous change than I had hoped for. For even though Dan Rhodes has not published anything since Timoleon Vieta Come Home, a few months ago I came to hear about a new literary voice fast gaining attention for her debut work, The Little White Car. Her name was Danuta de Rhodes. She was apparently 24, French and female.
Highly amused, I emailed Dan to assure him that despite my conservative Catholic upbringing I would not be renouncing my fanhood, and would gladly support the creative efforts of himself and indeed all other transgendered individuals. I also mentioned, in passing, that I hadn’t actually read the new book yet as it was only available in hardcover in Singapore, and as a poor student I would have to wait for the paperback.
A few weeks ago, a package arrived. The Little White Car was in it. Inside was written:
Avec beaucoup d’amour,
I devoured it over that weekend. I loved it as much as I’ve loved all Dan’s other books, and at least this one didn’t make me feel like bursting into tears in the middle of a crowded train carriage. Also, there is really nothing cooler than reading a book containing an extended passage where the protagonist confesses her secret shameful love for The Roxette Collection: Don’t Bore Us – Get To The Chorus!, where the author of said book has previously made your mutual secret shameful love for said band public by blasting Fading Like A Flower at his book launch party in order to find you, because you’ve never met in real life before.
And so I decided that the time had come for the INAUGURAL SYNTAXFREE BOOK GIVEAWAY!
Here’s how it works:
- Me, a grateful recipient of a gift from an author I love.
- You, a resident of a country with a reliable online bookstore presence (Singapore, UK, US are all fine, but you’ll have to suggest a store to me if you live somewhere else), so that I don’t have to pay Amazon an obscene amount to ship the book to Easter Island.
- Most of my friends no doubt already have a long list of reasons they wish they’d never met me, but here’s another: to participate in this giveaway, you have to be someone I’ve never met. Simply because I like the idea of buying a book for someone I don’t know in real life. Also, it’s pretty easy to buy books for my friends if I want to, but if I shove books into the hands of random strangers on the MRT they will probably think I’m an opposition politician and call the police. You don’t have to be a total stranger to me – if we’ve emailed before, or exchanged comments on a blog, that’s still fine. As long as we’ve never met in real life.
- So if you qualify, post a comment (or email syntaxfree dot gmail dot com if you’d prefer) and make me smile. It’s pretty easy to make me smile, especially during the work week. Two of the best ways are to either kiss my ass or tell me an excruciatingly bad joke, but I’ll be happy with any effort which goes beyond “Pls give me the bk, k thx bye.”
- If you elicit the toothiest smile from me, I’ll write back to you and ask where to send your book.
- Deadline: Monday 7 February 2005.