THE COFFINS OF LITTLE HOPE, by Timothy Schaffert
FICTION Hardcover | 6×9 | 272 pages
(Unbridled Books) April 19, 2011
Today, Timothy Schaffert visits Caribousmom with a piece about which author, dead or alive, he’d invite to his holiday dinner. This Spring, Schaffert is publishing his novel The Coffins of Little Hope with Unbridled Books. A little about the book (from the publisher’s website):
When a young country girl is reported to be missing, perhaps whisked away by an itinerant aerial photographer, Essie (an octogenarian obituary writer for her family’s small town newspaper) stumbles onto the story of her life. Or, it all could be simply a hoax, or a delusion, the child and child-thief invented from the desperate imagination of a lonely, lovelorn woman. Either way, the story of the girl reaches far and wide, igniting controversy, attracting curiosity-seekers and cult worshippers from all over the country to this dying rural town. And then it is revealed that the long awaited final book of an infamous series of ya gothic novels is being secretly printed on the newspaper’s presses.
The Coffins of Little Hope tells a feisty, energetic story of characters caught in the intricately woven webs of myth, legend and deception even as Schaffert explores with his typical exquisite care and sharp eye the fragility of childhood, the strength of family, the powerful rumor mills of rural America, and the sometimes dramatic effects of pop culture on the way we shape our world.
Timothy Schaffert on which author, dead or alive, he’d invite to his holiday dinner
Before Edward Gorey arrives in his long fur coat, I will prepare a dinner that is threateningly Victorian—pheasant still riddled with buckshot, raw oysters a suspicious hue, a plum pudding with a lucky golden ring inside just waiting to bust your tooth. Mr. Gorey and I will drink clotted nog and tell ghost stories by the fire. The tradition of spinning ghost stories at Christmastime never quite caught on here — other than in our appreciation of A Christmas Carol — but it makes perfect sense that a seasonal nostalgia might stir up spirits. (The Victorians recognized a Christmas devil, even — a figure of evil that lurks on Christmas Eve before the arrival of St. Nick.) So, on December nights, I tend to like to settle in with stories that haunt and evoke a holiday melancholia — “The Dead,” “The Rocking-Horse Winner,” “The Turn of the Screw.” So Gorey makes for a fitting midwinter dinner guest. He wrote and illustrated self-consciously antiquated tales of the consumptive and the murderous, of doomed ballerinas and depraved orphans, of mysterious bogs and foggy moors. His characters, whether rich or poor, were as lanky and underfed as skeletons, their eyes rimmed with sickliness, their gowns molting with dark feathers. Underlying it all is an irony so cold as to render his morbid tales sincere.
Timothy Schaffert grew up on a farm in Nebraska and currently lives in Omaha. He is the author of several critically-acclaimed novels including, The Singing and Dancing Daughters of God, Devils in the Sugar Shop, and The Phantom Limbs of the Rollow Sisters. His new novel, Coffins of Little Hope will also be published by Unbridled Books in April 2011.