Simon Plaster’s latest satirical novel is Hogback, subtitled (A Tale of Inter- Generational Conflict and a Girl). It continues the ongoing series of the author’s satirical and often LOL novels featuring a young reporter of a small-town newspaper, Henryetta. The gung-ho lass is named “for the small Oklahoma town where she was born and still lived.” Henryetta works for newspaper editor and owner, Harold Mixon, and works for his newspaper, the Henryetta Weekly Herald. She frequently discovers herself smack dab in the middle of the swirling controversies that are often the hallmark of small-town politics. The humor and controversial situations that arise make Simon Plaster’s witty novels an immense pleasure to read.
One of the many humorous events that Henryetta finds herself reporting on in Hogback is a golf tournament. People of all ages can play in it. The golf tournament is an activity that is a part of a new program the townspeople decide to try out, called the Program for Inter-Generational Sports, or (“P.I.G.S”). The aim of the program is designed to end the occasionally open hostility that certain peer groups in Henryetta engage in.
The program backfires, as many ideas that look good on paper do when put into actual practice. There ends up being an even greater amount of alienation, violence and conflict between generations than there ever had been. Simon Plaster’s hilarious novels are carefully crafted gems depicting the sorts of generational and societal conflicts that Americans often discover themselves in, making fun of the foibles that are exhibited by society at large.
The three generations of the Weiner family are a big focus of Hogback. The generations are composed of the characters Glen Junior, Gramp, and Lance. These three unique individuals each have something they feel is very important at stake as to who is the winner of the golf tournament. Simon Plaster interweaves the theme of conflict between the generations throughout his series of novels.
The townspeople each find themselves aligning with one of the three generations of the Weiner family, or competing against them, having their own self-interests and goals in mind. The founder and director of Henryetta’s Midlife Crisis Center, Portia Pepper, for one example, sides with Glen Junior and his intended goal to make the local golf course famous. He would like it become known as “the Pebble Beach of Oklahoma.” Making such a dream come true is silly on the face of it; but, Glen Junior is not one to let reality cloud his dreams. Portia and her organization’s “midlife militia” help support Glen Junior achieve this unrealistic goal.
Fellow mid-lifer, Randy Grimes, is on the opposing side in the novel Hogback, competing against Lance. Grimes has his own interests at heart, also, when he decides to compete against against Lance Weiner in the tournament. Randy wants to not only win the tournament title, but he also desires to win the grand prize, which is a trophy car. Randy hopes that, by winning the golf tournament, he can also catch the attention of a younger woman he is romantically interested in pursuing.
There are a multitude of other characters in the small town of Henryetta that are equally egocentric and have their own outcomes and desires in mind, all of them having to do with who wins the golf tournament. Professor Lehough, for example, busily organizes the teenagers of the town and gets them to harass Gramp Weiner, among other senior citizens. Lehough would like to get a revolutionary youth movement going in Henryetta.
Hogback is a hilarious and frequently LOL satirical look at and examination of the politics, generation gap, life, and classes of society in the town of Henryetta, Oklahoma. The Simon Plaster novel is definitely “A Story of and for The Ages.”
In Hogback, Henryetta discovers herself, once again, smack dab in the midst of all of the hilarious misadventures and conflict that happens in the Oklahoma town. She reports on it all with her own perspective thrown in, for good measure. Though Hogback can be read and enjoyed as a stand-alone, it is a good idea to read the other books in this LOL series, too. They are all fantastic and entertaining reads that are highly recommended!
Written By Douglas Cobb