Texas ReadsGlenn Dromgoole

>> archive“Friday Night Lights" twenty-five years later

H. G. “Buzz” Bissinger spent a year living in Odessa and following the Odessa Permian Panthers football team in 1988. He wanted to write a book about the importance of high school football in a town “that had seen better times.”

Odessa was suffering from a colossal oil bust, but Permian’s football fortunes and expectations continued to dominate Texas football.

The resulting book, Friday Night Lights: A Town, A Team, and A Dream, was published in 1990 to great critical and best-selling acclaim — except perhaps in Odessa, Texas. A movie and a TV series eventually were spun off from the book.

Twenty-five years later, Da Capo Press has brought out a 25th anniversary edition of Friday Night Lights ($15.99 paperback), including a twenty-five-page afterword by Bissinger tracking down several of the players featured in the book and reporting how their lives have turned out since high school.

When the book first came out, Bissinger’s planned book tour of Texas was cancelled because of death threats, presumably from irate Permian fans who felt their team and their town had been unfairly portrayed.

Evidently emotions have calmed down quite a bit in the ensuing quarter of a century, because this month Bissinger, now sixty, embarks on that long-delayed Texas book tour. He will kick it off in Odessa on Sept.14, then proceed to Midland on Sept. 15, Houston Sept. 16, Abilene Sept. 18, Dallas Sept. 19, and Austin Sept. 20.

He will speak at the Abilene Public Library on Sept. 18 at a noon lunch program being billed as a pre–West Texas Book Festival “bonus event.” The festival actually begins the next Monday, but festival planners couldn’t resist lining up Bissinger when he became available. The program is free, with an optional lunch of Frito Pie for $5. Bissinger will talk for 30-40 minutes,  then sign books.

If you haven’t read Friday Night Lights, this new edition provides a good opportunity to do so. Carlton Stowers and I included the original book as one of our sports selections in 101 Essential Texas Books last year. Lone Star Literary Life last month ranked it number one on a list of best all-time Texas football books.

Looking back, Bissinger says “the controversy that exploded after the publication of the book in 1990 made me a marked man.” While he felt he had written many good things about Odessa and especially the Permian players, he “also exposed thick veins of racism and misplaced academic and social priorities.”

He said he has been back to Odessa many times since the book came out and has several “friends for life” there.

“Odessans are more forgiving than they think,” he writes, “or maybe they just learned to ignore me, an old shoe, dusty and cobwebbed, kept in a forgotten corner of the closet.”

For more on Bissinger’s talk in Abilene on Sept. 18, or on the West Texas Book Festival Sept. 21–26, go to abilenetx.com/apl.

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Glenn Dromgoole is co-author of 101 Essential Texas Books. Contact him at g.dromgoole@suddenlink.net.

>> Check out his previous Texas Reads columns in Lone Star Lit

Bissinger Texas events for 25th Anniversary Friday Night Lights

In conjunction with Da Capo Press's August 2015 publication of the 25th anniversary edition of  Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream author H. G. “Buzz” Bissinger returns to Texas for a series of events. The publisher announced the following schedule this week:

Buzz Bissinger Book Events, Fall 2015

  • 9/14/15, Hastings (Odessa, TX), 7 p.m., with support from the Odessa Council for the Arts and Humanities
  • 9/15/15, High School TBD (Midland, TX)—morning or lunchtime solo talk
  • 9/15/15, Midland County Public Library (Midland, TX), Centennial branch, 5:30-6:30 p.m., solo talk, B&N to sell books
  • 9/15/15, Yucca Theater (Midland, TX), 7:30 p.m.—panel moderated by Jay Hendricks, CBS 7 anchor; ticketed event as fundraiser for Midland County Public Library Foundation
  • 9/16/15, Brazos Bookstore (Houston, TX), 7 p.m.
  • 9/18/15, Abilene Public Library (Abilene, TX), 12 p.m., Texas Star Trading Company to sell books
  • 9/19/15, Half Price Books (Dallas, TX), 2 p.m.
  • 9/20/15, BookPeople (Austin, TX), 2 p.m.

Texas Word Wranglers Hosts Authors for 10th Annual Event in Giddings, Sept. 11

The 10th annual Texas Word Wrangler Festival, which will be held Fri., Sept. 11 in Giddings, Texas, began in 2005, when the town realized there were so many talented authors — many of them local and state — that their community would like to recognize and encourage. The Giddings Chamber of Commerce partnered with the Giddings Public Library and Cultural Center to create the Texas Word Wranglers — authors who use words to convey ideas and stories, and portray people and places.

The 2015 lineup, featuring more than forty guest authors, includes:

Bangs, Ken, Roscoe Jack of Gateway Farm

Barton, Angie , Hi, My Name is Hanna and I'm Adopted

Bell, Ann , The Sister of Mary Dyer

Bowden, Lurlene, Old Coot's Campfire Cookin' Book

Carson, Connie, Colonial Romance

Chapman, Lara, Accidently Evil

Costello, Art, Expectation Therapy

Crawford, Ann, Greenpark

Doerr, Bob, The Rescue of Vincent

Drulman, Dorothy, Gentle Adventures for Young Folks (electronic)

Durham, Pat, Nyger's Advent Journey

Eckroat, Laura W., Laura's Blogspot

A Donut-A Muffin, Edward, R. Wayne

Wayne's Website, Kids Only Land

Foley, Jamie S., Sentinel

Fritz, Randy, Hail of Fire

Frontiera, Deborah, Book on Author's Den

The Nature of Life

Hayes, Celia

Hill, Lydia, Finding Home

Hutchins, Pamela, Heaven To Betsy

Huyser, Cindy, Burning Number Five

James, Brooklyn, Just Not Ready Yet

Johnson, Linda Baten, Henry Goes to Texas

Maloy, Donna, Celia and the Wolf

Masters, Nancy Robinson, Extraordinary Patriots

McIlvain, Myra, Stein House

Mueller, Don, Signs

Oliver, Becka, Writer's League of Texas, Executive Director

O'Loughlin, Peter, The Archimedes Signal

Peck, Connie, Legend of the Superstition Gold

Penny, Gean, Sally the Travelin' Saddle

Sharboneau, Shanalee, My Mama Loves Me

Shields, Kathleen, Hamilton Troll Meets Fiona The Dog

Smith, Jackie, PhD, Once More with Feeling

Stehle, Andrea, Daughter of Athena

Wallach, Elsie, Mysterious Mars

Wier, George, A Jealous God (electronic book)

Wilbur, Dee, A Jealous God (electronic book)

Winegarten, Debra L., Oveta Culp Hobby

For details, visit www.texaswordwrangler.com