Nebraska Center for Writers

Chimney Rock What the Critics Say
About Timothy Schaffert


Copyright © 2011
by Timothy Schaffert
Unbridled Books

Starred Review. It's small town, big drama in Schaffert's sublime latest (after Devils in the Sugar Shop) as Essie Myles, an 83-year-old widowed obituary writer for a small Nebraska newspaper stumbles onto the story of her life. The paper's printing press has been working double-time since a New York publisher contracted it to print part of the print run for the final installment of a wildly popular YA novel series—part of a plan to keep the book's contents under wraps—and Essie kicks into high gear as well when she gets a tip from a local that her daughter, Lenore, has been abducted by her photographer boyfriend. But the more Essie digs, it becomes less evident whether the tale is true or the concoction of a lonely woman desperate for attention. Meanwhile, parts of the YA novel are leaked, the missing person story blows up, and the once quiet town suddenly finds itself on the national stage. Schaffert spins out the story and its offbeat characters with compassion, spoofing the nation's voracious appetite for "news" and suggesting that perhaps not all stories are created equal. Piercing observations and sharp, subtle wit make this a standout. — Publishers Weekly

Devils in the Sugar Shop
Copyright © 2007
by Timothy Schaffert
Unbridled Books

The lives of a failed erotic novelist, a hostess of prim sex-toy parties, an artist and a bookshop owner pursued by a demented if harmless stalker — all members of the artsy crowd in Omaha, Nebraska — collide one snowy winter evening, the week before Valentine's Day. These wives and lovers plot to hold onto families, friendships and personal lives during an extravagant evening of wildy innocent sex parties, and may only be saved by their own children, a timely fire, and a return to their senses. Ashley, a frustrated novelist, teaches a community college class in the writing of erotica, which only seems to turn a magnifying glass on her own marriage woes. Deedee is becoming rich by selling marital aides at Tupperware-like home parties, but still longs to reunite with her ex-husband. Viv, an artist, learns to find creative inspiration, and maybe even a better understanding of herself, from a dirty-minded stalker who sends her startling obscene pictures in the mail. Peach and Plum, twin sisters, own a bookstore called Mermaids Singing, where together they attempt to unravel the knots of their own neuroses. All the while, the questionable wisdom of a tough-love motivational speaker, known only as Sybil the Guru, echoes throughout all their lives. The day ends with a few raucous parties that threaten, or promise, to challenge the ways these various men and women continue to live. As they struggle for guidance in the face of sheer lunacy, they come to realize that the most useful answers are likely the ones they come up with all on their own. — from the publisher

Schaffert ... walks an uneasy tightrope between the amusingly sexy and the scabrous. ... Schaffert's bohemian Omaha is consistently surprising and vibrant. — Publishers Weekly

This novel of desire, longing, love, and enduring friendship is like an expensive box of chocolates: each silken morsel is luscious and approvingly decadent, and with every bite you don't necessarily know what you’re going to get. — Library Journal, Starred Review

Funny page turner. — Omaha World-Herald

Truthful. Witty. Sincere. Deeply human. And well, maybe just a teensy bit adults-only-rated. Nebraskan Tmothy Schaffert's new novel, Devils in the Sugar Shop, is all of the above and more. — NCB News

Think "Sex and the City." Now make the city ... Omaha. ... But its setting aside, can a novel still be called chick lit if (a) it's written by a guy, and (b) most of the chicks in question are in their late 30s to early 40s and not especially interested in shoes? When the characters spend as much time as these do searching for love, sipping cocktails and seeking comfort in one another's company, the answer is yes, though Schaffert's version of it is a good deal smarter and funnier than most of the disposable volumes cluttering up this genre’s walk-in closet. — New York Times

The Singing and Dancing
Daughters of God
Copyright © 2005
by Timothy Schaffert
Unbridled Books

A blithe and redemptive seriocomic love story filled with country music, the ghosts of Halloween, and an ironic brand of down-home religion.
Newly divorced and feeling the pain of separation from his family, Hud Smith channels his regret into writing country-western songs, contemplating life on the lam with his 8-year-old daughter, and searching cryptic postcards for news of his teenage son who has run off with The Daughters of God, an alternative Gospel-punk band of growing fame. Then he finds himself inching toward reconciliation with his ex, tossing his whole talent for misery into question as they head off in a borrowed school bus, hoping so very tentatively to bring the entire family together again.
In this endearing misadventure that threatens to turn out right in spite of it all, Schaffert writes a thin line between tragedy and hilarity, turning wry humor and a keen sense of the paradoxical onto characters who deserve all the tender care he gives them. — from the publisher

An honest and unflinching story of families unraveled and the heartache and joy only loved ones can spark in each other. With skill and tenderness ... Schaffert unfolds his characters' hopes, strengths, and frailities in this gorgeous novel. — Jennie Shortridge, author of Eating Heaven and Riding with the Queen

I can't get over the delight of Tim Schaffert's new novel, with an instantly appealing cast of characters that won my heart so quickly and thoroughly. And the ending, as sweet and transcendent as any I can remember, lifted me right out of my chair. — Gerald Shapiro

The Phantom Limbs
of the Rollow Sisters
Copyright © 2002
by Timothy Schaffert
Blue Hen/Penuin Putnam

In Timothy Schaffert's seriocomic debut, two sisters on the cusp of womanhood struggle to understand their father's suicide as well as their mother's abandonment of them many years earlier.
Lily and Mabel live on their own in their grandmother's antique shop in rural Nebraska. They are bonded by their loyalty to each other and their haunting urgency to reconcile their own versions of the past so that they might build their futures together.
In a rebellious act, Lily steals a car with her boyfriend and heads southwest to an Arizona vineyard to confront her mother. Mabel stays behind, seeking to commune somehow with her father's ghost.
In a story that rises out of the spare Nebraska landscape, Schaffert delivers a textured, eccentric, and redemptive tale about two young women searching for wholeness and love. — from the publisher

Lively and sweet-natured. — Joy Williams

Timothy Schaffert's debut novel is both rich and dusty with wisdom, with many of the same delicate surprises you'd find in the Nebraska antiques store his characters have grown up in. — Dagoberto Gilb

Timothy Schaffert is a delightful and startling new voice ... and The Phantom Limbs of the Rollow Sisters is a peculiar, poignant, and slightly mysterious unfolding of two sisters' victory over the wounds of their childhood. But Mr. Schaffert's version of that often-told tale is quirky and freshly perceived. It avoids even a hint of pathos while sometimes being sad, often funny, and extraordinarily seductive. This book is quite an achievement! — Robb Forman Dew

The wistful coming-of-age story is solidly crafted and enlivened by quirky, Gothic touches and gentle humor. — Publishers Weekly

Schaffert creates funny, bizarre, and yet touching characters who possess depth and breadth. The result is yet another madcap coming-of-age story but one that speaks to the plight of the current generation. Despite suicide, abandonment, poverty, and isolation, it appears that the Rollow girls will always muddle through. Full of surprises, Schaffert's debut is recommended for public libraries. — Library Journal

The novel boasts an inventive story and endearing characters. — Booklist

Schaffert's blithe, quirky novel ... displays an outlook well suited to the paradoxical. — Janet Maslin, Detroit Free Press

...boondocks-Gothic ... quietly tragic. — Washington Post

A narrative both sweet and audacious ... The descriptive gifts of the author are great. — United Press International

Quirky, witty, and with a wondrous sense of place, this is a novel to curl up with. — Taconic Weekend

Perceptive and intelligent. — Midwest Book Review

Schaffert has created characters who engage our attention and, ultimately, our sympathy. Not all of us live orphaned lives in a rural antique shop, but we can all understand the feelings of loss and abandonment — the phantom pain of someone who should be there but isn't. — Missouri Review

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