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.
"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