A non-fiction novel of the bloody Power Affair in Arizona, 1918.
"this stunning collection of short stories draws unrelenting portraits of cruelty."
--Jeffrey Greene
Fiction (novel) Scribner, February 2008
"The story of 17 year old Ned Thorne who joins the army and gets posted to the furthest outpost of the Arizona Territory in 1871, where he must prove himself to his superiors and himself."
Fiction (novel)
"a bitter, witty psychological profile of genius that is also a wonderful celebration of country music."
--Donald Barthelme

Thomas Cobb

Coming in August from William Morrow and Co.
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Western Writers of America Spur Award Winner, Best Long Novel

A Southwest Book of the Year-Pima County Library Association

With Blood in Their Eyes University of Arizona Press, 2012

Shavetail, Berkeley Penquin, 2009

SHAVETAIL Scribner, 2008.

Crazy Heart, Harper Collins, 2010


Western Writers of America Spur Award (long novel) 2009

Texas Institute of Letters Jesse H. Jones Award for fiction 2009

photo Eugene St. Pierre

I grew up in Tucson, Arizona and did not leave until I was an adult. I spent much of my childhood in the desert. Palo verde, and mesquite were the trees I knew best. Wet creosote was the first smell I found intoxicating. Among my playmates were the horned toad and the tarantula. And I knew the myths of frontier Arizona, and those myths and heroes became mine—Wyatt Earp and his brothers, Doc Holliday, Cochise, chief of the Chiricahua Apaches, and his friend Tom Jeffords, and Geronimo. And I knew that terrible things had happened nearby—a group of leading Tucson citizens and a recruited band of Papago Indians had slaughtered one hundred and fifty Apaches, mostly women and children, at Camp Grant.
By the time I was a teenager, I still loved and lived in the desert, but no longer wanted to stay there. I wanted to live in New York, or Los Angeles, or Chicago or London, where I supposed interesting and important things happened, but not Tucson. Years later, when I lived in Houston, I began to understand how important the desert was to me and how much I missed it. I began to read about it, and when I went back, I looked at the desert in a way transformed . It had become the landscape of my imagination. I live in New England, but I write in Arizona.
Shavetail began on one of those trips back to Arizona. My childhood friend and I stumbled onto the ruins of Camp Supply, later Camp Rucker, in the southeastern part of Arizona, and I was entranced. The story of the place, the story of Lts. Rucker and Henely became the loosest of models for the main characters of the novel. The characters are fictional, and except for the Camp Grant Massacre which preceeds the action, so is the plot. What is true here is the setting-- the desert, foothills and mountains of southern Arizona and Mexico—and the sorts of lives that the place engenders.
The desert, especially the Sonoran desert, is often called things like “harsh and unforgiving,” and I suppose it is. But it’s also delicate and exquisitely beautiful. Each year, there’s less of it. Part of what I write of the desert is elegiac. Much of it is gone, more of it is going every day. Partly I don’t live in Arizona because I don’t want to intrude any further on that fragile place. Though there is an adventure story at the center of Shavetail, I see it primarily as a novel of linked love stories—stories of loves desired, lost and held on to at great cost. One of those stories is of me and the desert where I grew up.