Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Dancing with Gravity: Review and Giveaway

'Father, I want you to take on a special, temporary assignment. I want you to bless the circus.'
~Dancing with Gravity, Anene Tressler

Usually I am not at a loss for words, but I'm not sure what to say about this book, Dancing with Gravity by Anene Tressler, published in 2010. I decided to read it because it was listed as literary fiction (whatever that means; I assumed it was better than your average, "non-literary" book). But a debut novel about a priest didn't sound particularly scintillating. And there's a circus in the story, the Little Flower Circus--oh, really? Kind of like Sister Wendy and painting, I supposed (incongruous perhaps, yet worthwhile), but not on my must-read list by any means.

But something happened, during the first chapter, luckily. I recalled numerous clichés I'd heard to describe books, such as:

"It engaged me."

"I stayed up half the night reading."

"I couldn't put it down."

These clichés became something meaningful in this case. It was engaging. I stayed up late reading. I couldn't put it down. In short, I absolutely adored this book, which is set in St. Louis. I loved reading the innermost thoughts of Father Samuel Whiting, the shy, sensitive, and surprisingly sensuous main character in the story.

" 'The piercing arrows of love.' Even as he said these words, Whiting realized how strange they must sound to Mother Frances. His response was a mystery even to him. But he wasn't embarrassed. Instead, he experienced an almost physical sensation of being caressed. He half closed his eyes and gave himself over to it."
~Dancing with Gravity, Anene Tressler

I felt for Father Whiting, who dreads Carla, the secretary of Pastoral Care, and falls for another co-worker, Sarah James. I rooted for and identified with him. In fact, I became him, to the extent that that's possible, for the duration of the book. I'm not sure how the author did it (her exquisite writing helped), but she temporarily transformed me into a circus-loving priest.

Cast aside the book you're reading (but not really enjoying), and pick up Dancing with Gravity instead. Even if it's not what you'd planned on reading, one thing's for certain: it's truly spectacular!

Here's a chance to win a copy of this book. Blank Slate Press, the publisher, is offering a copy of Dancing with Gravity as a giveaway (U.S./Canada only, or a .pdf copy to anywhere!).

  • To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment.
  • For another chance at winning, become a follower of this blog, or let me know that you're already a follower, or that you subscribe in Google Reader.
  • For an additional chance, post about this contest on your blog, Facebook, or Twitter.

Enter by 5PM PDT on Monday, April 18. One winner will be chosen randomly and announced on Tuesday, April 19. Good luck!


Special thanks to Lisa from TLC for sending me an advanced reading copy of this book. (I've taken slight liberties in this post by including two quotes from my copy of the book.) For more reviews please visit the other stops on TLC's Dancing with Gravity book tour. For further insight into the book, please stay tuned for my upcoming interview with the award-winning author, Anene Tressler.

51 comments:

  1. Sounds like an interesting book. Now literary fiction is a word that has foxed me for the longest time. Do sad books get classified into Lit fic? ;-)

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  2. I just finished this book the other day, and I loved it as well. Whiting was just so fully human and he had some personality traits that, although they could be troublesome to me, made him very endearing. I think you did a great job with this review and I am glad to hear that you also loved the book!

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  3. great review! I would really like to read this book. so, I am entering the giveaway.
    I am a follow and I have the blog on google reader.
    Again, a wonderful review!

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  4. Wow, it sounds like that book really exceeded your expectations! I've never heard of it, but you've made the writing sound exceptional.

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  5. I love it when a book you didn't think would be good turns out to be wonderful!

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  6. Does sound like an interesting book.
    I am already a follower.
    rickimc[at]aol[dot]com

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  7. I hadn't heard of this one before (thanks for the recommendation) but when your post come up on my google reader, I started!

    Years ago, Dancing with Gravity was the working title of a novel I wrote. I liked it but felt it might be too serious, given the double meaning of gravity. In the end, the book was published as The Art of Falling.

    Funny old creative world!

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  8. I sounds like an interesting book, and what a nice review you wrote.

    I am a follower on GFC.

    iowagramma.ann@gmail.com

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  9. This book sounds intriguing. Thanks for the giveaway.
    mtakala1 (at) yahoo (dot) com

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  10. blog follower via GFC and email
    mtakala1 (at) yahoo (dot) com

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  11. That's some recommendation, I'm glad you liked this book so much and hope to reserve myself a copy at the library. Good luck to all who enter your giveaway.

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  12. Sounds great...thanks for the opportunity!

    pocokat AT gmail DOT com

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  13. I follow on GFC

    pocokat AT gmail DOT com

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  14. As publisher of Dancing with Gravity, I am, of course, thrilled with your review. And like some of the others who commented, I, too, am sometimes confounded by the term "literary fiction." But with Dancing with Gravity, there was simply no other way to classify it. It is beautifully written, yet Whiting's loneliness and sense of alienation is so heartbreakingly sad that at times it is almost painful to read. And yet, read on you must because Anene Tressler's care in drawing the character of Father Whiting in such excruciatingly truthful detail is truly a gift to the reader and to Whiting himself.

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  15. Deborah, both meanings of gravity are applicable to the book's title and content. I want to learn more about your book now.

    Kristina, Father Whiting is a character I'll long remember. I'm not sure what it says about me, but I truly identified with him.

    Thanks for all the comments. I welcome more. Please note that the giveaway is international in that this novel is available as an e-book in .pdf.

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  16. Oooh... I'd love to win a copy. the samples of writing you shared were quite wonderful!
    shetreadssoftly(at)gmail(dot)com

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  17. I'm also a follower.
    shetreadssoftly(at)gmail(dot)com

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  18. This sounds so good. I'd love to enter for a copy and of course I'm already a follower.

    darreads (at) gmail (dot) com

    Thanks!

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  19. Please enter my name in the giveaway.

    pboylecharley(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  20. I would love to be entered in your draw. Thanks.
    wandanamgreb(at)gmail(dot)com

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  21. I am a new follower through Google Friend Connect.
    wandanamgreb(at)gmail(dot)com

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  22. I shared this giveaway on Twitter -
    http://twitter.com/#!/lemonslippers/status/56162823218278400
    wandanamgreb(at)gmail(dot)com

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  23. LOL! You became a circus-loving priest! Awesome! Well, since you have raved about it so thoroughly, I have to throw my name into the hat. I have never been a circus-loving priest before!

    nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

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  24. Blogged:
    http://cerebralgirl.blogspot.com/2011/04/book-giveaways-in-blogworld-4-2-11.html

    nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

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  25. Follow on Google Reader

    Tweeted at: https://twitter.com/dogboi/status/56377284587823104

    dogboijoe(at)gmail(dot)com

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  26. sounds wonderful suko! glad you enjoyed it that much and that the cliches were true :)

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  27. Thanks again for the comments, and for helping to spread the word. My interview with the author has been posted--please stop by!

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  28. This book sounds so good! i'd love to read it, so please count me in :)
    my email: evieseo@gmail.com

    I'm a follower of course! :)

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  29. Susan, thank you so much for the wonderful review. I'm thrilled that this book was so much more than you expected. Thanks again for being on the tour!

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  30. I would love to read this
    gardnerad@juno.com

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  31. What a great review for what sounds like a really good book.
    Bookquoter(at)gmail(dot)com

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  32. Sounds like a great book cant wait to read it! Thanks alot for the giveaway!
    Im also a follower via google reader!
    elizabeth_717@live.com

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  33. This is a book I haven't heard of and from your review it sounds like one I should read. I'm a follower.

    undermyappletree at gmail dot com

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  34. I really love the sound of this book; your review was terrific. Thanks for the giveaway

    bibliophilebythesea AT gmail DOT com

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  35. This sounds like an interesting story.

    lkish77123 at gmail dot com

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  36. I would love to win a copy.
    ykatrina at hotmail dot com

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  37. Sounds like maybe I should have signed up to participate in this tour!

    JHS
    Colloquium

    jhsmail at comcast dot net

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  38. The reason that I am interested in this book is because you got hooked and that you stayed up half the night reading it. That makes it a winner for me. Please enter me in this contest.

    CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

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  39. I follow your blog with Google Friends Connect.

    CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

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  40. My Twitter name is Carolee888
    I tweeted:

    http://suko95.blogspot.com/2011/04/dancing-with-gravity-review-and.html? Giveaway of "Dancing with Gravity'

    CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

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  41. I love engaging books!

    lag110 at mchsi dot com

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  42. I am a new follower.

    lag110 at mchsi dot com

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  43. Tweeted: http://twitter.com/lag32583/status/59367441788178432

    lag110 at mchsi dot com

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  44. Thanks for this giveaway!
    The book sounds interesting. I'd like to read it (:
    ejhtan at gmail dot com

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  45. Following via gfc (tearyeyedstars)
    ejhtan at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  46. tweeted:
    http://twitter.com/#!/tearyeyedstars/status/59476937634086912
    ejhtan at gmail dot com

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  47. I think your review is wonderful! I was thrilled to read that despite the strange premise you found the book engaging from the start. Father Whiting is a very compelling character for me having grown up in a strict Catholic home. I have known a few priests like him, too.
    I would love to win a copy of this book. Please include me in your giveaway!

    Thank you!
    ~ Amy
    Aimala127(at)gmail(dot)com

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  48. I'll have to keep this book in mind. It sounds worth checking out, and I probably never would have heard of it had it not been for your review.

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  49. Huh, definitely sounds different but good! Have you read Water for Elephants? That had a good behind-the-scenes look at a circus and I never thought I would be interested in that, LOL.

    Irene (San Antonio Local SEO)

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