Previewing the 2006 Texas Book Festival


Goodnight, Texas

by William J. Cobb

Unbridled Books, 304 pp., $24.95

In the opening of William J. Cobb's warm Goodnight, Texas, the Gulf Texas town Goodnight by the Sea has all but lost its hope, and as the days go by that the fishermen can catch nary a guppy to revive the town with vital economic nutrients, Goodnight is losing its spirit, as well. But when a mysterious VW Beetle-sized fish is found awash on shore – with a horse lodged inside its beastly belly – life begins to change for the locals.

Cobb's engaging plot is complemented by his truly artistic descriptive and narrative style. For once, a book swimming so heavily in description is authentic and meaningful. Cobb steers clear of general clichés and brings his setting to life, with visual, auditory, and olfactory details. Cobb's frequent use of Spanglish and Chicano dialogue rings true, despite his Anglo heritage.

Cobb further demonstrates his literary talent in his subtle character portrayals. Through an objective third-person point of view, readers are able to smell the Vietnamese-flower scent of Una's skin; they can physically feel the damp heat enveloped between bad-news bus driver Gabriel and the china-white 16-year-old Leesha. There is no definitive protagonist in this story; rather, the author manages to connect his audience with every character, interweaving their separate, compelling stories carefully throughout the text. As Goodnight's fate rests upon the approaching jaws of uncompromising Hurricane Tanya, bent on destroying the lives of an impoverished, desperate people, these characters predictably tangle with one another, their separate conflicts at this moment appearing minute and arbitrary in the disastrous scheme of things as they place faith not in supreme beings, but in the strength of humanity.

Saturday, Oct. 28, 1pm

Capitol E2.026

What Would Mom Say: The Thin Line Between Family and Fiction

William J. Cobb, Lee Merrill Byrd, K.L. Cook, Marshall Terry; Moderator: Amanda Eyre Ward

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