Title: Goodbye, Saturday Night
Author: Thomas Conner
Publisher: Foundations, LLC
Publication date: October 7, 2016
Length: 77,400 words, 246 pages (paperback)
Reviewed by Meredith
A Southern story of love and friendship, of betrayal and redemption. It’s early May in 1956 in the small South Alabama town of Farmington and eleven year old Bobby Crosby’s life is about to change forever. He’s still anguishing over the death of his father even though it’s been five years and he’s come to despise the life centered around his mother’s cafe, a place that becomes the revelrous hot spot of the community when the sun goes down. Bobby escapes his real world by going to the movies every night. There, sitting alone in the dark, he leaves Farmington far behind and melts into the world of the silver screen. Bobby’s best friend is Hucker Nolan, a twenty-two year old drop-out from the swamps across the tracks who drives a taxicab in the daytime and works concession at the movie theater at night. Now, Bobby’s world seems to be collapsing and there’s nothing he can do to stop it; his mother has a boyfriend Bobby deeply resents and his feelings for Hucker are confusing and ever changing, often filled with anger and jealousy Bobby doesn’t understand. Then, the worst thing possible happens— Bobby is betrayed by the one person he trusts the most.
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I loved the fact that the span of this book was just a few days and that I wasn't inundated with an insane amount of characters.
Bobby, the MC of the story, is eleven and the changes and overcoming he has to go through int this book left me breathless at times. My heart ached for the young boy. Eleven is a tough age. He lost his father, hates his mother's new boyfriend, and his best friend is a twenty-two year old guy (Hucker Nolan) who works at the movie theater that Bobby considers to be his haven from the internal turmoil in his life.
This is a tale of evolution, Bobby's, and even though we only go through a few days it feels like a lifetime. This is an extremely well written journey. I absolutely recommend it and commend the author for writing an extraordinary story.
I sat totally immersed in the picture. A pale blue light flickered from the constant beam shooting from the projection booth. My heart was pounding in my chest. On the screen, James Dean slumped painfully over the dead body of Sal Mineo. My heart beat double-time, and I unconsciously crushed the empty popcorn box into a tight mass. I could not believe the injustice I witnessed and the hurt I felt. I wanted to scream out at the rotten policemen and call them filthy names. I wanted to hurt them and make them sorry for the fatal blunder that caused James Dean to cry bitterly over the corpse of his dead friend.
Would Hucker weep so bitterly over my dead corpse?
After the end credits rolled, the dim exit lights were raised, and I was snatched back to Farmington by a low rumble of voices, a faint laugh or two, and the shuffle of feet moving up the side aisles crushing bits of popcorn and crinkling candy wrappers.
A wave of disappointment swept over me. I was actually back in the dirty little town I had left so long ago to fight and rebel side by side with James Dean, Natalie Wood, and Sal Mineo. I sat still for a few minutes, then stood up to go. I was one of the last to make my way up the sloped aisle, and when I looked up, I was facing dead-on with Crazy Willie, the crippled fellow who cleaned up the show. He was limping down the left aisle straight toward me, dragging a big trash can with his good right hand. His withered left hand was pulled up tight against his chest and his broom was tucked underneath it. When we met, I stepped quickly out of the aisle and a couple of seats over, not wanting to be within his reach. I didn’t look him in the eyes, and I let him pass. It always spooked me when I got too near Crazy Willie. For years I’d heard the horror stories about Crazy Willie murdering his father when he was a boy and how the law couldn’t arrest him because he was too young but God struck him with lightning, making him crippled for life, because of his murderous sins. Anytime a dog or cat came up missing, kids would say Crazy Willie had killed them and ate their bodies. I knew I could outrun Crazy Willie because he was crippled and couldn’t move fast, but if I got too close, he could grab me and kill me dead. I made sure I stayed out of arm’s reach.
As I passed through the faded velvet drapes into the lobby, I saw my friend Ellis Montgomery coming down the side stairs from the balcony where the colored people sat. Ellis was a head taller than me, three years older, and several shades darker. I was envious that Ellis could sit in the balcony while I was restricted to the lower level just because I was white. Of course, Ellis couldn’t sit with me in the lower level because he was colored, and it never occurred to me he might be envious of me. Ellis’ mama, Velma Montgomery, had been our evening cook at the cafe for as long as I could remember. Ellis and I had been playmates forever, climbing the big chinaberry tree at the end of the alley behind the cafe, putting rocks on the railroad tracks to see whether we could derail a freight train (we’d never try to derail a passenger train because we certainly didn’t want to kill anybody) or playing cars and trucks or toy soldiers in the stockroom of the cafe.
Sometimes, we would play cowboys and Indians outside in the various nooks and crannies and alleyways around town. I always directed Ellis to play the Indian because he was colored and it made more sense. Sometimes, though, he’d play the cowboy, and I’d play the girl. He’d save me before the stagecoach crashed over the cliff and be my hero. Ellis thought that was funny, but he went along with it and never mentioned it to anybody. I never even told Hucker about that, and I told him almost everything. I knew he would laugh his ass off and never let me live it down. It had been a couple of years since I played the girl. I knew now only a sissy would do that, and I surely was no sissy. Except for Hucker, Ellis Montgomery was my closest friend. We just couldn’t sit together in the show.
About the Author
Thomas Conner, also known as Tom, Tommy, and TC by friends and family, was born in Florida two miles from the Alabama state line. He spent most of his early years living on the Alabama side. He graduated from the University of West Florida in Pensacola with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Humanities. Conner wrote his first novel when he was 12 (which burned in a house fire) and has been writing ever since. He published a family history book in 2000 entitled The Conners of Conecuh County, Alabama, and has published several articles.
Since 1980 he has resided in Central California’s Big Valley, where he has worked in higher education at a prestigious private university in Student Life. He served four years as the university’s staff advisor to Pride Alliance, the campus LGBT community. When not writing or working his daytime job, Conner is involved with classic movies, serving on a classic cinema committee and promoting a summer classic movie series.
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