Opry: A Semi-Musical Tale of Honky Tonk Lifestyle by Simon Plaster

Reviewed by Ray Palen

OpryA raucous Oklahoma City Honky Tonk; a relentless bulldog reporter; a City Councilperson on a mission; a couple on the outs competing against each other in a winner take all Karaoke Contest.

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These are just some of a handful of characters in the wild, over-the-top, country music fueled novel OPRY. Did I forget to mention there are also a string of missing women including a prospective competitor in the Karaoke Contest?

Author Simon Plaster prides himself on his satirical novels featuring characters that resemble — or closely resemble — real life characters. OPRY is a big undertaking in which Plaster, from a literary standpoint, has many balls in the air to juggle all at the same time.

V.D. “Moon” Mullins is the sleazy owner of Honky Tonk, a self-proclaimed Texas style beer joint in the heart of Oklahoma City. His place is about to host their nearly famous KaraOkie Opry singing contest. Many have entered this extremely competitive competition and a handful of these ‘talents’ are featured in the narrative of OPRY.

The novel opens with an article in the OKC Scene written by a reporter named Henrietta. In the article she reports on local governments attempts to crack down on bars and clubs in the Oklahoma City area that have been the center for violence, public drunkenness and possible more nefarious crimes.

During Henrietta’s research for this article she received a quote from a bar owner to the effect that most fights are about a gal and it is not odd to find one or two females going missing in any given week. These crime statistics particularly annoy City Councilperson Gretchen Goode who has made it her personal mission to stomp out these dens of iniquity. Unfortunately for Moon Mullins, his place is directly in her cross-hairs.

Honky Tonk, in the meantime, is going through preparations for their singing contest. The place already claims to be the ‘HOME OF THE KARAOKIE OPRY’ and this contest is something they pride themselves on. Among the many contestants is the married couple: Orville “Chad” Puckett and Eunice “Opal” Puckett. The two don’t have the smoothest of marriages and the fact that each are vying for the same title won’t mend any fences.

Making matters even more interesting is the fact that Opal’s sister, Jewel, was also a contestant in the contest but now has mysteriously gone missing. The fact that she was a former singing partner, and then some, with Chad Puckett is not lost on local law enforcement or our shrewd reporter, Henrietta. Moon Mullins has his hands full to keep his place open under the wake of much government pressure that includes his club being compared to the biblical town of Gomorrah.

What really sets OPRY apart from any other book I have read is the serious inter-splicing of Country and Western lyrics throughout the narrative. Nearly a third of all the language in this novel are lines from C&W songs featuring representation from the likes of George Jones, Tammy Wynnette, The Oak Ridge Boys, Buck Owens and many, many more. I particularly liked the reference to the 1980’s WWF novelty act known as The Honky-tonk Man, with a few of the lines to his ring entry song. OPRY is a fast and furious read perfect for those who love heavy satire mixed with classic country music!