Category Archives: Humor/Satire

GREEZERS: A Tale of Establishment’s Decline and Fall by Simon Plaster

Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

Greezers is Simon Plaster’s latest and perhaps greatest satirical novel featuring the memorable character, Henrietta, named after a town in Oklahoma, Henryetta, who, previous to Greezers, had the desire to advance her journalistic career and one day earn a Pulitzer Prize. In Greezers, a tale of a chain of lube shops, fast food, and succession, Henrietta seeks a change in her life, and gets a job as an assistant to Leroy (“Lero”) O’Rourke, a private detective. She thinks that as a journalist, she has done a fair amount of deductive reasoning, and that will stand her in good steed in her new career. But what lengths will she go to in her pursuit of truth, justice, and the American way? Let’s just say that in Greezers, chock-full of popular culture and musical references that fans of the series have come to expect, Simon Plaster has Henrietta putting her “assets” out on stage for all to see, even having her briefly working at a strip club in her efforts to surveil a subject, Harry DeGrasso, who is a potential heir of the Trinita Coal Oil & Tar Company.

You may wonder why Greezers is called Greezers. It’s because the book is about the plots and schemes of potential successors to the Trinita Coal Oil & Tar Company’s chain of Greezers lube shops to one day take over control of same from the Company’s elderly 95-year-old matriarch, Nanette GeGrasso. While her son, Charles, being the Executive Vice-President of the Company, looks like he would be the obvious choice as the heir apparent, he has fallen out of favor with his mother, and he has familial rivals who also would like to dethrone Nanette, like her nephew, Joe DeGrasso, who is also an Executive Vice-President. Nanette acts scornfully towards all of the potential successors, with the exception of Harry, who is her grandson and a junior executive in the Company, under both the watchful eye and thumb of Charles. Charles, however, does not think that Harry is trained fully enough or is nearly as experienced and worthy as he is, and he believes that he, rather than Harry, should be the one to take over after his mother dies.

Tracks: A Curious Tale of Who’s Her Daddy? by Simon Plaster

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

Who is Henrietta Hebert’s biological father? An answer to the question is a conundrum that could be illuminated when Henrietta’s mother finds DNA evidence that supposedly belongs to the mystery man, and this is the impetus behind Tracks: A Curious Tale of Who’s Her Daddy? Henrietta’s mother hires a private detective, Max Morgan, to find out the truth. Max is not only an admirer of hard-boiled detective tv shows and crime novels but also an avid listener to The Fat Man, a popular detective drama radio program in the 1940s and early 1950s. In American history, the show lasted for six seasons. Max fashions himself after the detective in the title role. A marvelous beginning to an entertaining story with a number of complications arising as the detective becomes more embroiled in the speculative paternity case. More than one man is a suspect for possibly fathering Henrietta, and melodrama surrounds each man.

Simon Plaster pulls readers into this delightful story from the first page and keeps their interest right up until the final page. It takes place over a time period of five days in Henryetta, Oklahoma. A good balance of noteworthy, pivotal, and lighthearted moments lends additional meaning to momentous subject matters, such as political treachery and subterfuge, differing views and aspects involving paternity, and ethical issues in both sperm donation and DNA testing. All of these topics are woven together with amazing skill revealing a seamless story from beginning to end. Plaster also beautifully shows how extenuating circumstances and individuals’ subsequent reactions to them can impact a person’s life in positive and/or negative ways.

Joe’s Odyssey by Nick LaTorre

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

When it comes to a road trip brimming with outrageous escapades and misconduct, Joe’s Odyssey by author Nick LaTorre definitely makes an impression. Fueled by testosterone, the overall narrative refreshes the college road trip genre by taking readers along on an action-filled tale with a quartet of hedonistic, pleasure-seeking friends, which includes adventure on the open seas, world travel, mobsters, hitmen, and college prankster antics.

Frustrated and angst-riddled for middle-aged Joe Kerson, life in general, has him in a bad place, perspectively. He finds himself stuck working for a company at a job with no room for advancement and a boss he deeply resents. Also feeling deeply unhappy with his marriage, he no longer desires intimacy with his wife, as well as being frustrated with the stressful financial necessities of caring for teenaged children. As an escape he finds solace in alcohol and his lamentations at the bar he frequents.

However, one pivotal fateful day, Joe’s boss comes to him with a special assignment to meet with a new potential client, Luciano Galdonchino, (a known mobster) on his yacht. Initially, unenthused, Joe meets Luciano and while witnessing some the aspects of his wealth, power, and success decides to seize the opportunity of a lifetime. Joe pushes Luciano overboard, steals his yacht and money, and thusly embarks on the adventure of his life in the stolen yacht on the open sea. However, Joe does not opt to do this excursion alone; he finds himself a crew of three college friends also acquaintances of his kids, known as the Schmorde, Ron, Pirate, and Brute. Together with this mixed bag of oddball, immature characters, he launches a journey to chaos, danger, sex, drugs, and all-encompassing juvenilistic behavior, making stops in Vegas, San Francisco, and Jamaica. Having no remorse Joe easily keeps the adventure going for months leaving his family and old life behind while occasionally sending a nasty letter to his wife.

Brokla: A Tale of Things Falling Apart by Simon Plaster

Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

Brokla: A Tale of Things Falling Apart is the newest satirical, LOL book in author Simon Plaster’s series of novels featuring a small-town Oklahoman reporter known as Henrietta. As with other books in the series written by Plaster, he pulls no punches and he uses the actions and comments of his humorous, larger-than life characters to target several controversial topics that have been in the news in recent months and since the election of President Donald Trump. No topic is sacred or immune from Plaster’s playful jabs and satirical barbs, all related to the breaking apart of the social structure and very fabric of the United States. Plaster uses his large and motley cast of humorous characters to target subjects like the decline of TV viewership in the NFL, the resurgence of Feministas, the continued influence of the Antifa movement, the poor irrigation practices of Oklahoma panhandle farmers, the possible secession of California from the United States, the intense college football rivalry between Texas and Oklahoma and much, much more.
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The author’s female protagonist, erstwhile reporter Henrietta, started off in the earlier novels in the series with big ambitions, and she still has them in Brokla. She longs for the day when she will be assigned to writing the type of newsworthy story that could earn her a Pulitzer. At the start of Brokla, she thinks that maybe she’s finally hit on a story that is big enough and important enough to gain her the fame, and Pulitzer, she feels she richly deserves, when her boss at the local weekly newspaper, SCENE, Nigel Fleetwood, assigns her to cover a Town Hall Lecture Series where a certain Colonel Top Secret, a foreign government think tank expert, complete with a paper bag over his head, is speaking and prophesying about the future of the United States. A man Plaster calls “Agent X” sits at the same table with Colonel Top Secret, helping to interpret the foreign military leader’s dire predictions.

The Dumb Class: Boomer Junior High by Mike Hatch

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

The Dumb ClassAuthor Mike Hatch delivers originality and spunk with his The Dumb Class: Boomer Junior High; a retrospective coming of age story that unflinchingly provides readers with a gritty, humorous, and boldly creative romp through life with a group of Junior High school friends.

Taking place in the 1960s, the story follows “baby Boomer” friends Bill Jones, Eddie, Jeff, and Harley through their formative years in Boomer Junior High school. Events are detailed by Bill Jones who is also the story’s protagonist. As a whole, the teens are a cast of tenacious, drinking, smoking, sexing and scheming set of youth whose friendships and wit carry them through many escapades and life experiences. Jones, in particular, makes for a captivating character to follow. He has wit and a peculiar charm and albeit. Although in the lowest of the class designations in the junior high school, “the dumb class” he seems to be one of the smartest and conniving.

Instantly intriguing from its outset the story draws your attention along with piquing the interest with an opening scene of a crudely humorous debate about the female anatomy, being held by the group of friends, which serves to bring the diverse main players into focus and sets the tone for the story as one replete with humor, raw depictions of life and teen behavior. As the story progresses, it follows their adventures, experiences, and explorations fueled by raunchy desires, cursing, teen angst, drugs, alcohol as well as other diversions like revenge. As characters, their unique personalities and interactions drive the story forward, while heralding authenticity via infused bits of historical and cultural references.