The leisurely, episodic, slightly farcical down-home memoirs of Hobby Aldridge--who at 16, circa 1901, marries 33-year-old blacksmith/cowboy Tyler . . . and is thus swept off to arid Bergen County, Texas (""Not intended for humans""), where the hard farm life is sporadically enlivened by feuds, fusses, and practical jokes. For one thing, you see, Tyler has a predilection for throwing off alil his clothes from time to time--while riding at a rodeo, for instance. And through the years (circa 1906-1930), an assortment of somewhat eccentric neighbors will be either enchanted or infuriated by Tyler's rambunctious, motorcycle-riding ways. There's vile, greedy little Conrad Voertmann--who grows quickly from child-wheeler-dealer to power-broker and flower-club huckster (""First off, I'm gonna show you some pitchers of flar gardens in country like hereabouts, to show you what kin be did""). There's Shower O'Starr, who leaves county-fair show-biz to become (briefly) a local housekeeper and the beloved of the Aldridges' Indian hand Shine. (A talented artist, Shine will destroy his work when Hobby tells him this sets him apart: ""I ain't gittin set apart by nothin."") And above all there's the nearby household of Madam Selah, Fidelity, Cindy, and Rose--fugitive prostitutes who set up a friendly sort of brothel with singing 'round the piano. On first meeting, however, Selah warns Hobby: ""Do you have money or property in your own name? Reason I ask is, no man is immune to Fidelity when she sets her mind."" And, indeed, though Tyler is absolutely faithful (his ""orgies"" over at Selah's are strictly platonic), he will end up, in the mid-1920s, accused of strangling Fidelity--as this genial, wry patchwork takes a sudden tutu into murder-mystery and bitter memories. For the most part, however, it's a ragged, cheerful quilt of a first novel--with Christmas fireworks, schoolmarm mishaps, general-store gossip, and Hobby's tart commentary (""to laugh at your wife's hysteria is the lowest depth of rudeness"") bouncing the sometimes-slow-pokey narrative along.