Flicks: A Tale of Cinematic Docudrama, Half-Truths and Half-Fictions by Simon Plaster

Reviewed by Ray Palen

FlicksThe death, or in some people’s minds, murder of the late Hollywood star and Blonde Bombshell Marilyn Monroe is at the heart of this novel…sort of. This work by author Simon Plaster is entitled FLICKS: A Tale of Cinematic Docudrama, Half-Truths and Half-Fictions. The title isn’t the only thing ambiguous about this novel. I also found it hard to nail down as far as genre for it has bits and pieces of several: Expose, Satire, Crime, Filmography… I could go on. I settled with just calling it Fiction and allowing readers to decide where they thought it best fit.

FLICKS also features many parallel narratives, most of which cross paths with each other at times throughout the novel. There is no true protagonist or antagonist, just a myriad of colorful characters. We have Hollywood filmmaker Deano DeBoffo, who is making what he refers to as a docuflick about the late Marilyn Monroe entitled The Deadly Pepper Shaker. More importantly, DeBoffo claims to have in his possession a loop of film that purportedly details the how, who and why Miss Monroe was murdered rather than being the victim of an overdose. It also allegedly depicts Monroe caught in what is essentially a porn tape with one of the characters depicted in DeBoffo’s film.

There is Henrietta — the closest thing this novel has to a moral center — who is a writer for the hometown Oklahoma City series of newspapers referred to as the OKC. She is always in search of a good story and thinks she has one that combines some of the crazier local characters with Deano DeBoffo who is temporarily stranded in Oklahoma City and not letting that slow down the research process or creation of his film.

Those are some of the ‘normal’ characters. Perhaps the most outlandish is former High-School Drama Teacher/Wannabe Actor, Jim Bob Sherrill. Sherrill is in the middle of changing gender and that leads to an uncomfortable coincidence that finds him portraying both the alleged Latin lover of Marilyn Monroe as well as the Blonde Bombshell herself — complete with full drag get-up and jumping up on tables reenacting the Happy Birthday serenade she famously did for then President John F. Kennedy.

Not far behind Sherrill in the loony tunes category is Speaker for the Oklahoma State House Of Representatives, D.C. “Dobber” Cantwell. Cantwell could have stepped right out of an old Hee Haw episode as he is just as stereotypically ‘okie’ and ‘small-town hick politician’ as you can imagine. He is also fully behind turning Oklahoma City or OKC into a new film hub or Hollywood of the Plains as he endorses it, to the point where he even finds himself in the DeBoffo film.

Author Simon Plaster dedicates FLICKS to A.L.W. the author/screenwriter of The Platinum Loop. This alleged non-documentary is in post-production and itself an adaptation of a best-selling novel by Austin Williams. If you’re confused as I am, then Mr. Plaster has done his job. Yes, Austin Williams is a real author and THE PLATINUM LOOP was released in 2011 — but I had to do some on-line research to validate that fact. Plaster does such a good job throughout this novel of blurring the lines between truth and fiction, satire and seriousness, that you will be struggling to figure things out. I say just sit back and enjoy the ride.

All of the action and this cast of zany characters will all come to a head by the end of FLICKS in dynamic fashion. If there is one piece of advice I can impart to Mr. Plaster it would be to include a list of Characters with descriptions at the beginning of the novel. Even a scorecard would have been welcome. There are so many characters running in and out of this novel I found myself flipping back sometimes full chapters to figure out who was who. FLICKS is an eye-opening, rip-roaring read and if you can cut through the satire you might find a really neat Hollywood expose hidden beneath all the OKC colloquialism.