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William Sibley

Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

Larry McMurtry meets A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This is Sibley’s best yet — a rollicking screwball comedy with a heart as big as Texas. — Steven L. Davis, Author, Past President, Texas Institute of Letters “A rousing success! Writing about an entire village and the surrounding ranches – and doing both extremely well. I figured this would be “funny” going into it but was honestly surprised about how damn hilarious it was. A sparkling comedic romp. Writing about South Texas, especially in the ranch scenes, was incredibly moving. You really brought to life that world in so many ways – beautiful writing and wonderful observations. Pete’s death scene was a masterpiece – not so much for the scene itself, which is brilliantly written, but for how all of the other great descriptions you have of the land and the ranch work lead very naturally up to that moment, and how it completes the portrait you’d been creating. Really well done. It was all so much damn fun to read! I did come to feel that there was a bit of a spell cast over the town, a la “Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Thinking about the love triangle reminds me a tiny bit of McMurtry’s Leaving Cheyenne. I was also thinking about your connection to McMurtry because you write so well of Rita Blanca, just as he wrote of Archer City. there’s a real kinship there between you and him and these books you’ve created. I bet he would’ve loved reading this.”
Set in the south Texas town of Rita Blanca, where the Dairy Queen is still “the locus of all things essential to civil existence,” Sibley’s boisterous comic novel blends small-town satire and humanist warmth as it unspools its tales of isolated people learning to love. At the heart of the sprawling townie cast is Marty Pennebaker, recalled from her Manhattan career to oversee 50,000 acres and care for her ailing rancher father. Marty has been carrying on in secret with Pettus Lyndecker, the strapping son of a broke and occasionally criminal family; Pettus’s sisters run a flower shop in town facing competition from a well-heeled neighbor’s new rival store. As that conflict heads toward possible violence, a handsome man from Monterrey, Mexico, arrives in town bearing a check for $250 thousand dollars–and a surprise connection to Marty’s deceased brother, Tom.

Sibley seems to relish crashing his characters into each other’s lives and letting the sparks fly. His prose is sharp and evocative–witness the “hard, flat, hot, and cruel” landscape of mesquite trees and barbed wire–and offers epigrammatic jewels: “[I]n Texas nearly everyone claimed to be Christian, from bank robbers to topless dancers.” A screenwriter and playwright, he reveals story and character through the kind of comic dialogue and incidents that people who aren’t from a place might think are exaggerated—and that people who are from a place are usually too polite to dish to outsiders.

A funny thing happens, though, as the story moves through its weddings, funerals, crimes, confrontations, and surprise romances. Sibley reveals open hearts and minds among his cast, reminding readers not to assume that small-town means simple. “Caught in all this vastness, this stillness, day after day, year after year–it’ll turn you mad as a snared coyote,” one character muses. At its best, Here We Go finds these snared coyotes daring to find new ways to love.

Takeaway: A satirical small-town Texas comedy with welcome, surprising heart.

Great for fans of: Cathie Pelletier, Donald Harrington.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: B+
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A

Sibley (Sighs Too Deep for Words) crams this quirky Texas epic with humor, contemporary issues, and oddball characters. Wealthy rancher Pete Pennebaker is dying and wants to hand his empire off to his only daughter, Marty, who has recently returned from New York City and is carrying on a poorly concealed relationship with Pettus Lyndecker, the oldest in a large family of downwardly mobile ranchers with a history of legal troubles. Chito Sosa, a Mexican investment banker, arrives and surprises Marty and Pete by introducing himself as the widower of Marty’s deceased brother Tom, who made Chito promise to return to his hometown to spur change for the better. Meanwhile, Pettus’s sisters struggle to keep their flower shop afloat after a spoiled young woman open a competing shop across the street, and Pete uses his influence to protect a newly arrived Syrian refugee. A love triangle between Pettus, Chito, and Marty takes an unusual turn while complicated schemes to thwart business rivals produce life-altering consequences. Sibley manages to keep all the plates spinning while offering a strong sense of small-town Southern life. This eccentric, multifaceted story has a great deal of heart. (Self-published)
Steven L. Davis, Author, Past President, Texas Institute of Letters

"Larry McMurtry meets A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This is Sibley’s best yet — a rollicking screwball comedy with a heart as big as Texas."