By: Simon Plaster
Publisher: Mossik Press
Publication Date: September 2019
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Simon Plaster’s bevy of tales when it comes to his girl, Henrietta Hebert from Henryetta, Oklahoma, have ascended in many readers’ minds to sit among the “best of the best.” His is humor to the most brilliant degree and, if questioned, it’s easy to state (which this reviewer has done before), that this author is the ultimate “King of Satire.”
This time around, we join Henrietta as she’s driving her old yellow Checker cab west on Historic Route 66. Henrietta said ‘so long’ to her small hometown in Oklahoma once to go after her dream. Yes, she is a journalist, and that Pulitzer Prize is out there. It’s dangling in her future, like a squirrel in a tree mocking the barking dog in the back yard saying: “Learn how to climb yet, Fido?”
Lack of education is Henrietta’s problem. After all, she only enjoyed a half-semester of remedial reading and writing in a junior college before heading home to help her mother when she had a brain stroke. There, she was stymied while working for Harold Mixon, the owner/publisher of the Henryetta Weekly Herald. Finally, after going nowhere, she has quit the job and hit the highway in order to better herself so she can catch that elusive squirrel.
Pulling up in front of the Oklahoma Public Education Center (Yes, OPEC) in Oklahoma City, Henrietta is a bit surprised that this once tech school is now offering a curriculum that includes the career path she’s chosen. After signing up for a minor in cheerleading (yes, there’s a joke there), Henrietta heads out to meet her new Professor of Journalism, Mr. Owen Hatteras. He “teaches” his course in the print shop which is a metal shack located behind the run-down WELCOME CENTER on campus.
Owen is interesting, to say the least. Sixtyish, cigar smoking, bowtie-wearing, cusses like a drunk cowboy man—he has a past that includes being too smart for the people whose chins are far too high (a.k.a. Harvard), and despising politicians, among many others. The person he despises most at the moment, however, is a man already holding the D.A. slot in Oklahoma City, Lawrence Farrell. When he was younger, Owen became the courthouse reporter for his hometown newspaper, the Oklahoman out of OKC, so he has witnessed how absolutely unscrupulous Farrell can be in order to keep his career moving ahead. In fact, Owen once worked for this man and hates him with a fervor. Oddly enough, however, he wants to help Farrell win an upcoming election. But...why? Oh, trust me, there’s a reason.
Henrietta learns from Owen all about the new OPEC curriculum, which is not only adding journalism to their offerings but also two other choices: A Department of Feminist Studies, and an English Department run by Temporary Adjunct Professor Joseph McDokes, who will teach western literature. Included in this course will be Genesis I.
This is significant because in the state of Tennessee, in the year 1925, there was a famous trial referred to as the “Scopes Monkey Trial.” It had to do with religion and education coming together in an “unlawful” way. A substitute high school teacher was accused of violating Tennessee’s Butler Act, which made it unlawful to teach human evolution in any state-funded school. The lawyers on hand for this trial were big-name to say the least, and it also brought in arguments from Modernists and Fundamentalists. (Must have been a real happy time in that courtroom. Too bad cell phones weren’t invented then to take some friendly pics.)
In the here and now, it is Henrietta Herbert, aspiring journalist, who will be taking on many roles. She will not only find herself attracted to the accused, but will also be reporting on what could turn out to be a new “trial of the century.” This is all happening while Owen is playing his own cat-and-mouse game; the constant yapping can be heard from the former D.A., William “B. is for Bullshit” Ryan; and the Church has their own uprising against people who still do not understand that God’s word trumps (no pun intended) science, and so much more. Henrietta will even be referred to as Miley Cyrus. (Wanna know why? Read the book!)
Defined in reviews and bios across the Internet, Simon Plaster is a storyteller: both a writer of fiction and a fibber (a.k.a., downright liar.) To fans who are completely on edge at times waiting to see Henrietta again and laugh hysterically over the new characters she will meet up with, the more correct definition of Simon Plaster is, downright funny with a mind that creates books which are unforgettable. If you have not “jumped in” with this series as of yet, this is a great place to begin. After this, you will most assuredly “jump backwards” and read every word that has ever been uttered in regards to Henrietta Herbert of Oklahoma.
Quill says: This book offers humor and a unique education that brings the trials and errors of this current world into focus.