Book Notes – Three New Debut Novels
3 excellent debut novels by Abilene writers
By Glenn Dromgoole
I’ve read three first novels by three Abilene writers this year, and I have to tell you that I have enjoyed – and heartily recommend – all three.
Earlier this year I reviewed The Arms of God by Leslie Hammond ($19.95 paperback). In fact, we were scheduled to host him for a book signing at Texas Star Trading Company in March before the pandemic changed everything.
The Arms of God is a well-written, upbeat novel filled with characters you can’t help but like. The title refers to the Brazos River, which flows through the West Texas tale, and focuses on the life of a hard-working young man who is embraced by the community after his mother kills his father when he is just eight years old.
Lisa McKinnon has published what I would call an autobiographical novel, I’ll Tell the Moon ill tell the moon($14.99 paperback), focusing on adventures, events and people from her childhood in Littlefield, Texas. The Birdie character in the book is basically Lisa.
The story revolves around Birdie, her brother Sam, and her best friend Caroline as well as Birdie’s grandmother, mother and sometimes abusive father who is especially rough on Sam, a slow reader.
Most of the tales are set in Littlefield in 1967, with the last few chapters taking place in 1975 and 2013. Folks who grew up in small towns, especially in that era, should easily identify with the mischievous brother and sister duo.
Wes Gorman brought in his hefty novel, The Last Homecoming, which he calls a Texas Gothic last homecomingTale ($15.99 paperback), set on a fictional family ranch near Abilene. I have to say that I was a little intimidated by the 537-page tome until I started reading it. Right away I was hooked, and I finished it in two days!
Best-selling novelist and creative writing professor Sean O’Bryan, who is going through a divorce soon after his father’s death, is invited to visit his 80-year-old Uncle Emmet on the O’Bryan ranch. Immediately he feels at home and decides to stay awhile.
But he soon encounters some very strange things occurring at the ranch – weird dreams, a ghostly soldier figure, telephones ringing that no one can find. And all of them seem to involve family secrets his uncle is reluctant to share.
The novel is an upbeat tale of love, family and friendship, but it also has an overriding supernatural element.
All three of the new novels have one thing in common: the church has an important place in the stories – the Church of Christ in Hammond’s, the Methodist Church in McKinnon’s, and a non-denominational tabernacle in Gorman’s.
If you’re looking for a good read this summer, you can’t go wrong with any of these first novels. And we have autographed copies at Texas Star.