Plaster (Ticks, 2014, etc.) offers a satirical novel about political correctness in America.
When readers first meet Henryetta Hebert, a journalist for the Weekly Herald, “a small town newspaper” serving Henryetta, Oklahoma, she’s troubled. Her former high school sweetheart, the professional football player Gaylord Goodhart, has come out as gay, and he’s soon to marry one of his Dallas Cowboys teammates. She weeps after she reads the wedding announcement, recalling Gaylord as the man “who would always be the love of her life.” Meanwhile, the town of Henryetta sees itself engulfed in a controversy: Hildegard “Hilde” Bottomly, a frustrated political figure that some people describe as “a virtual Hillary Rodham Clinton doppelganger,” returns to town for her high school reunion. She’s shocked to find that the school’s team name has changed from the “Fighting Hens” to the “Golden Knights.” This stirs up a dispute about the name of the town itself, and it’s not long before this economically stagnant (“About everyone in town was equally broke”) and football-worshipping town becomes a tempest of political excitement. If the names of the townspeople are any indication, it’s a wacky tempest indeed. The book takes place very much in the now: Caitlyn Jenner, Donald Trump, and Bill O’Reilly are among the real-life figures mentioned. However, it’s the more homespun characters and their antics that shine the brightest. The book is at its best when it’s tackling thorny subjects, although the narrative does coast into extreme territory. Whether a reader finds this humorous depends greatly on his or her tolerance for such fare as a magazine article aimed at “metrosexual” men that offers a memo to Jenner: “Do not lop off that little thingy down there between your legs. Bend it like Beckham, but don’t break it!”
A zany, if sometimes-excessive, novel that makes a mockery of many topical issues.