Goodnight, Nebraska

Short reviews of recently published books.

Off the Bookshelf

Goodnight, Nebraska
by Tom McNeal

Vintage, $12 paper

Goodnight, Nebraska begins as a standard coming-of-age story. Tom McNeal's young protagonist Randall Hunsacker likes to fix things -- mostly cars. He isn't much on conversation. His family are the type of people commonly associated with doublewide trailers and pickup trucks. They don't have Internet access. When Randall moves to Goodnight, to stay with a widow after family tensions explode, the story's narrative widens to include the residents of this small town. McNeal contrasts the gradual maturation of Randall and the woman he loves with the unfolding weaknesses of her parents. However, Randall never seems to come of age -- he just gets older. There are various storylines -- each handled deftly -- and the author's descriptions of peripheral characters are apt: He writes that a man fascinated Randall "in the way that a live snake in a clear jar might." Randall's sister, a young woman with a smart mouth, refers to their apathetic mother as "deboned." McNeal writes poignantly of the aches in people's hearts, and the stumbling courses of their aspirations.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Book Reviews
<i>Presidio</i> by Randy Kennedy
Presidio by Randy Kennedy
For his debut novel, Kennedy creates a road story that portrays the harsh West Texas terrain beautifully and fills it with sympathetic characters.

Jay Trachtenberg, Sept. 14, 2018

Hunting the Golden State Killer in <i>I'll Be Gone in the Dark</i>
Hunting the Golden State Killer in I'll Be Gone in the Dark
How Michelle McNamara tracked a killer before her untimely death

Jonelle Seitz, July 20, 2018

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle