Monday, February 25, 2008


Thomas Cobb is the author of Crazy Heart, a novel, and Acts of Contrition, a collection of short stories that won the 2002 George Garrett Fiction Prize.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel Shavetail, and reported the following:
Page 69 in Shavetail is a short one -- a small paragraph and one more sentence. Is it representative? Not really, but it deals with one of the themes of the novel. In the paragraph Lieutenant Anthony Austin (US Army 1871) is dealing with another onset of depression, which, in the 19th century was called "melacholia." It's a condition that afflicts him and affects all of those around him.

Shavetail deals with men (and women) who are subjected to extreme conditions, often life and death conditions, under which they have to make decisions that affect them and many, many others. Their beliefs, their emotional states, their physical conditions all play a role in how they make those decisions. Big decisions are never easy, never objective, not matter how much we think they are.

Would this little paragraph encourage a reader to keep reading? No, I suppose not. It might indicate, though, that though Shavetail is a historical western (i.e. it takes place in 1871, in the southern Arizona Territory), it makes some attempts, I hope, at some larger, more contemporary issues. I hope that might encourage someone who wouldn't normally read the sort of book this may seem to be, to give it a try.
Read an excerpt from Shavetail and learn more about the author and his work at Thomas Cobb's website.

Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue