Now Is The Hour

The year is 1967, and Rigby John Klusener, seventeen years old and finally leaving his home and family in Pocatello, Idaho, is on the highway with his thumb out and a flower behind his ear, headed for San Francisco. Now Is the Hour is the wondrous story of how Rigby John got to this point.


The year is 1967, and Rigby John Klusener, seventeen years old and finally leaving his home and family in Pocatello, Idaho, is on the highway with his thumb out and a flower behind his ear, headed for San Francisco. Now Is the Hour is the wondrous story of how Rigby John got to this point.

It traces his gradual emancipation from the repressions of a strictly religious farming family and from the small-minded, bigoted community in which he has grown up, during a time of explosive cultural change. Transforming this familiar journey from American Graffiti to On the Road to something rich and strange and hilarious is the persona of Rigby John himself. Intimately in touch with his fears, hesitantly awakening to his own sexuality, and palpably open to life's mysteries, Rigby John is a protagonist whom readers will fall in love with, root for, and be moved by.


“I love this book, and more importantly I love Tom Spanbauer, he is inventive original and one of the most talented authors I’ve come across. The story of Rigby John is the story of a young man’s transformation, of his finding and losing himself, sometimes all in the same day. It is a story about reconciliation, about family bonds and the need to break free. It is rich with knowing—the prose is deft, funny, heartbreaking and the story stays with you long after the last page is turned.”

A.M. Homes, author of This Book Will Save Your Life


“In Tom Spanbauer’s Now Is the Hour, white small-town America gets its cherry busted in an orgy of cigarette smoke and racism.”

Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club


Publishers Weekly starred review
Now Is the Hour

Tom Spanbauer. Houghton Mifflin, $26 (480p) ISBN 0-618-58421-8

Spanbauer follows his well-received The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon with a risky assay into the traditional bildungsroman, with this straightforward but luminous tale of a country boy's self-liberation. In the summer of 1967, 17-year-old Rigby John Klusener is hitchhiking from his hometown of Pocatello, Idaho, to San Francisco to escape a life of religious, racial and sexual bigotry. He leaves behind a pregnant girlfriend, a hopelessly mystified mother, an embittered father and a sister trapped in a brutal marriage. As he waits for a ride out on the deserted highway, he winds the story back to his childhood, then virtually walks the reader through a life marked by hard farm work, Catholic guilt and the liberating passion of deep friendships formed with the most scandalously disreputable people of the community. From his first school-yard fight to first experiences with sex (of various sorts), cigarettes, alcohol, pot, jealousy and love, Rigby John's first person is at once reliable and highly ironic; we may know better, but he truly doesn't, and the distance is delicious. And his genuine astonishment at other people (great names: Allen "Puke" Price; Grandma Queep) keeps his telling edgy and warm, without allowing it to be sentimental. (May 15)


Kirkus reviews, March 15, 2006
A simmering Midwestern household boils over when a gay teenager discovers sex, drugs, and rock-'n'- roll circa 1967. On the family farm in Pocatello, Idaho, Rigby John Klusener obeys his repressed, work-weary parents like a good Catholic boy should, but it doesn't seem to do much good. His dour father hardly acknowledges him. And his mother alternates between enjoying Rigby's high spirits—he plays dress up with his older sister—and assuring him he's going to hell. At school, life's equally grim: Joe Scardino regularly beats him up, and the word "queer" is sneered in his direction long before he knows what it means. Once puberty hits, bringing chronic tumescence, life gets even harder. His mother spies him in a private moment of "self abuse" and transports Rigby at 80 miles an hour down the highway to confession. His father, a raging bigot, threatens Rigby with his belt if he befriends anyone outside their church. Into this bleakness arrives Billie Cody, a large-breasted sophomore with a gimlet eye for false piety. They smoke pot, listen to the car radio, kiss a little, but mostly they talk about literature, hypocrisy and the future. When Billie finds sexual fulfillment elsewhere and winds up pregnant, everyone assumes Rigby is the father. Prom night brings everything to a flash point: Rigby's mother stalks her defiant son with a broom handle; Billie's drunken father wants Rigby's hide; and Scardino needs to settle an old score with his former whipping boy. Only George Serano, a notorious local full of his Indian tribe's spiritual wisdom and a brazen passion for men, can help Rigby find his personal path out of town. Although some of the bullying characters—the father and Scardino especially—are mere personifications of evil, Spanbauer (The Man Who Fell In Love With The Moon 1991, etc.) writes this fairly traditional coming-of-age story with a raw energy that makes it compelling. A nostalgic paean to young "warriors of love." (Agent Neil Olson/Donadio and Olson Inc. Literary representatives)


"Meet Rigby John Klusener, the sixteen-year-old, virgin, could-be-queer son of a Catholic marriage and farm life so desiccated it chaps the lips to read them. But a Spanbauer hero does not just lament his fate: he sings of it.  Rigby John's homemade mantras and farmbred refrains makes a music as alien to rural Idaho as marine life is to the Sahara, soon generating a liturgical eroticism that alternately mesmerizes, shocks, and nourishes. What haunts me about Spanbauer's love warriors finally, no matter how great their escape velocity, is their undeniable Idaho groundedness, their unquenchable indigenous ache.

Now Is The Hour is a literary triumph and a coming of age heartbreak."

David James Duncan, author of The River Why and The Brothers K 


"Tom Spanbauer is never shy when it comes to the heart and soul of things. He charges in, fearless, maybe reckless. You hear yourself shouting `watch out' because you care what happens to him. But you know there's wisdom in the risk. Now Is the Hour is like that: scary in the launch of personal disclosure, thrilling in the careen of detail, yet redeemingly sweet in the landing. A good trip, all the way through."

Mark Jacobson, author of Gogiro


"This author can write. You feel pulled in immediately just by the rhythms of his language. Then by his great humor, his vast heart.  There is no one like Tom Spanbauer writing in America. I dare you to read this and still hold onto the old way you see the world.  He turns things inside out, into a deeper ground of being.  What a terrific novel! What a huge talent!"

Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones and The Great Failure


"Pick up Now is the Hour and fill your hours with gorgeous writing. And for the record, as a farmer, I'd love to bale hay with this guy."

Rita Mae Brown, author of Rubyfruit Jungle