At the age of 17, Randall Hunsacker shoots his mother's boyfriend, steals a car and comes close to killing himself. His second chance lies in a small Nebraska farm town, where the landmarks include McKibben's Mobil Station, Frmka's Superette, and a sign that says The Wages of Sin is Hell. This is Goodnight, a place so ingrown and provincial that Randall calls it "Sludgeville"-until he starts thinking of it as home.
In this pitch-perfect novel, Tom McNeal explores the currents of hope, passion, and cruelty beneath the surface of the American heartland. In Randall, McNeal creates an outcast whose redemption lies in Goodnight, a strange, small, but ultimately embracing community where Randall will inspire fear and adulation, win the love of a beautiful girl and nearly throw it all away.
About the Author
Tom McNeal was born in Santa Ana, California, where his father and grandfather raised oranges. He spent part of every summer at the Nebraska farm where his mother was born and raised, and after earning a BA in English at UC Berkeley and an MFA in creative writing at UC Irvine, he taught school in the town that was the inspiration for his first novel, Goodnight, Nebraska. Tom has been a Wallace Stegner Fellow and a Jones Lecturer at Stanford University, and his short stories have been widely anthologized.
"You'll want...to buy copies for all your reading friends--flawless."--San Francisco Chronicle
"What a remarkable debut!... A small town that is as vivid and alive as Sinclair Lewis's Zenith, Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio, and Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon."--The Denver Post
"Deft, touching, and humorous. In the tradition of Richard Ford, Raymond Carver, and Anne Tyler."--The Christian Science Monitor
"McNeal is aware that many more of us will accept the sadness we know than venture out in search of a possibly painful unknown--and he renders such decisions in language whose very plainess feels musical."--The New York Times
"A vivid, tender and thoughtful portrait of a great plains farm town. These sad, secret stories bring out the best of McNeal's writing, and are his finest and most lasting gifts to the reader."--Los Angeles Times
"Completely compelling. A beautifully drawn portrait of a town that at once combines and cradles the people who grow up in it."--National Public Radio
"A strange, bumpy, and memorable trip through small town USA--a compelling journey into the heart of American life."--Redbook