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Wanderer Springs: A Novel Hardcover – January 1, 1987

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When Jessie Tooley finally dies, Will Callaghan knows he has to go back for the funeral in Wanderer Springs, a tiny Texas town that was "born beside the railroad and died beside the interstate," which passed around it. In this perfectly pitched, evocative novel, Flynn, author of the award-winning North to Yesterday, tells the story of one of those evanescent towns of the American interior that has a lifespan of "three or at most four generations." There are no major events in the town's history, Will says, just families and relationships. You can't pick your friends or choose your neighbors, and your ancestors have already decided your enemies. Actually, it's not true that nothing major occurseverything that happens is important, because nothing is forgotten. The narrative's leisurely pace and diffusion (Flynn provides a key to the families that spawn the novel's 120 characters) could put off some readers, but most will find it genuinely rewarding.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Fifth novel from the author of Seasonal Rain (Corona, 1986), this is Flynn's most accomplished work yet. It is an intricate, brutal, funny saga told by oral historian Will Callahan, who returns to his hometown to chronicle its rural past and urban present. Not a detached observer, Will painfully reveals the dark, sad past he shares with his neighbors as he imparts a strong sense of place and people. The story is rich in detail; the characterization, deft; the voice, an amalgam of Texan idiom, frequent hyperbole, and compassionate memory. Flynn's abundant talent transforms the annals of a dying town into an exploration of larger human concerns. Edward C. Lynskey, Documentation Section, Atlantic Research Corp., Gainsville, Va.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Texas Christian University Press; First Edition edition (January 1, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0875650716
  • ISBN-13: 978-0875650715
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,040,789 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Robert Flynn has captured in his ficticious west Texas town of Wanderer Springs, not only that area but all of Texas, every small town from El Paso to Texarkana, Amarillo to Brownsville. All of the day-to-day exploits so interlinked with both small town glory and tragedy, the pathos of memories and the wonder of that which is remembered not as it was but as it should have, or might have, been. This is a book for anyone who wants to know more about the small town experience, the history of places with no historical signifigance, the what of what happened and where. A good book, an excellent story and well written by one of this state's best writers.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A Discussion of Wanderer Springs
by Robert Flynn
The novel opens with a reference to the funeral of Jessie Tooley, an old-time friend of Will Callaghan, the story's main character. It takes place in Wanderer Springs, a tiny Texas town that was "born beside the railroad and died beside the interstate.'' Flynn tells about life in a small American town with a lifespan of "three or at most four generations.'' It is the story of people struggling to get by in the rough and isolated land, which frequently witnesses brutal sandstorms, dry summers, and cold winters.
Numerous characters (over 120; more than the population of the Alamo,) come to life with impressive clarity as they are revisited repeatedly; this horizontal approach to the characters' stories paints a strong sense of the continuity of life in this small community where accidents often shape the destiny of a character: The three most striking events in this novel are Will's drop of a pass during the infamous football game against Center Point team, the lynching of Joe Whatley, and Dolores' death in a car accident.
The main character, Will Callahan speaks in the first person and the past tense and tells an intricate, brutal, funny saga. When Will returns to his hometown, he chronicles its rural past and urban present not as a detached observer, but as a painfully concern citizen who loves every stone, tree, and person of the Wanderer Springs. As he reveals the dark and sad past that he has shared with his neighbors he imparts a strong sense of place and people.
The story is rich in detail; the characterization, deft; the voice, strong and effective. Like our second novel, "All the Pretty Horses" this one uses Texan idiom, frequent hyperbole, and compassionate memory.
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Format: Hardcover
Most people think of Texas and think of Houston, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio. But the stories of Texas are really the tales of its small towns, how they started, how they grew, how they survived or died.

Robert Flynn's Wanderer Springs is a masterfully written novel of one such town, told through the eyes of one of its products, one of its survivors, one of its storytellers.

The novel weaves together a vast cast of characters and generations of families, and its easy to get lost or confused between the Spruill family or the Slocum family or the Shipman family (a ten page who's who is included for your reference pleasure). But these intertwining stories and familes are what makes a small Texas town what it is, and their tales are its history.

Mixed in with the history of the town and its families is the story of Will Callaghan, heading back to Wanderer Springs for the funeral connected to a tragic event from his long ago high school life. As he gets physically and mentally closer to Wanderer Springs, the stories of the town show their influence on his life, on his friends and on the decisions he made. A history teacher and writer by trade, Will Callaghan revists several "ghosts" from Wanderer Springs: townspeople, his loving wife, his father, past loves and friends.

Bob Flynn has won several awards for his writing, and, while I have been a long time reader and fan of his shory story work, this novel is one of the most authentic Texas works to ever grace my shelves. Highly reccommended.
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Format: Hardcover
Wanderer Springs is a dying town in Northwest Texas, one of that string of dusty towns left to wither away when the highway from Fort Worth to Amarillo bypassed them...For Will Callaghan, that country and the town of Wanderer Springs are carved into memory, indelible in their clarity.

Called home from San Antonio by a funeral, Will begins a journey, both physical and imaginative, that crosses not only geographic and cultural boundaries but darts back and forth in time, mixing stories of the town's frontier past with episodes of Will's high school days. In sometimes hilarious and sometimes painful detail, Will relives the football game where he dropped the pass and lost the championship for Wanderer Springs forever, the time he got his gum stuck in his girlfriend's hair, the strangely distant but close relationship of a motherless boy and his taciturn father. Equally clear are the tales from the past--the Turrill family's desperate wagon ride to find a doctor for their daughter, dying of appendicitis or Lulu Byars who danced in town and caught pneumonia riding back to her dugout in a norther. Wanderer Springs said she died of frivolity.

Through it all, the clear voice of Will Callaghan, a good old boy grown into an intellectual, gives meaning to the chaos, seeks sense out of the past, recognizes our inextricable link to the past.

A masterful combination of community, great plains living in a time now lost to modern ways.
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