Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream
by H.G. Bissinger
400 pages. Da Capo Press. $10.08
For everyone who fell in love with the Dillon Panthers and Coach Taylor on television, this is the nonfiction account that inspired it all. Written by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist H.G. Bissinger, Friday Night Lights captures the religious devotion and fervor that defines Odessa, a small oil town in west Texas, where high school football is greater than life. The year is 1988, and the Permian High School Panthers are headed toward the state championships. In Odessa, football obsession leads people to place "For Sale" signs in the coach's yard after a loss and football players to puke from pre-game anxiety. And, of course, football always trumps academia. But while Bissinger hones in on Odessa's frenetic allegiance to high-school football, he also exposes the racially fraught underbelly of the town—and what happens when high school football becomes synonymous with a small town's pride.