ABOUT THIS BOOK
In this audacious memoir, William Cobb reveals the tumultuous creative life of a distinguished practitioner of southern and Alabama storytelling. As poignant and inspiring as his own fiction, Captain Billy’s Troopers traces Cobb’s early life, education, and struggles with alcohol and the debilitating condition normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH).
Like a curving river, the broad sweep of Cobb’s turbulent life includes both startling cataracts and desultory eddies, leading sometimes into shadows or opening into unexpected sunlight. With unsentimental clarity, Cobb recounts coming of age in his native Demopolis in the churning middle years of the twentieth century. It’s there he has his first tantalizing tastes of alcohol and begins to drink habitually. Readers then travel with Cobb to Livingston University (now the University of West Alabama) and then on to Vanderbilt University. Along the way, readers relish his first experiences of love and success as a writer, leading to a career as a professor of writing at Alabama College (now the University of Montevallo) in 1963.
From there Cobb’s struggles with alcohol and depression lead to elongated years of tumbling creative output and the collapse of his marriage. The summer of 1984 found Cobb in rehab, the first step in his path to recovery. His unflinching memoir narrates both the milestones and telling details of his intense therapy and years in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). In the sober thirty years since, Cobb has published a string of critically praised novels and a prize-winning collection of short stories. The capstone of his comeback was winning the Harper Lee Award in 2007 for distinguished fiction writing.
In 2000, shortly after retiring, Cobb developed NPH, which upset his sense of balance and triggered dementia symptoms and other maladies. Nine years later in 2009, brain surgery brought Cobb a dramatic recovery, which began the third act in his writing career. Vital, honest, and entertaining, Captain Billy’s Troopers captures the life of an Alabama original.