Thursday, January 2, 2020

Book Reviews Reloaded: The Most Illegal Goose Creek Parade

This article first appeared on East Niagara Post on January 5, 2016. It is repeated here as I work to put all my book reviews in one place. They will be posted on Thursdays or Fridays and only be altered from the original in that I will add publisher information and pages. Hopefully, by revisiting these reviews, other people might find a book they'd like to pick up for their own enjoyment.

The Most Famous Illegal Goose Creek Parade -- Virginia Smith
Harvest House Publishers
224 Pages

I generally skip right over the Inspirational Books when checking out the New Releases. They’re just not my cup of tea. For one thing, I cannot bear the random, interminable Biblical quotes that pop up. They kill any literary momentum, much like having speed bumps on the interstate. However, when I saw the subject of this week’s review peeking from between books on that very shelf, I was instantly drawn to it.

The Most Famous Illegal Goose Creek Parade by Virginia Smith is a lovely book about a small town, its quirky inhabitants, and the politics that can run or ruin the community. Living in a small town myself, I love stories that explore the dichotomy between the author’s imagination and reality -- or rather the lack of dichotomy. Sometimes that reality is just stranger than fiction.

Welcome to Goose Creek, Kentucky, a small, fictional town somewhere near Frankfort. Al Richardson is ready to call it a career and sit in his backyard enjoying retirement. His wife, Millie, is ready to throw caution to the wind and engage in new adventures. Susan Jeffries is the new veterinarian taking over for the beloved vet of the Creek. In the meantime, the biggest calamity is that the town’s water tower is in desperate need of a coat of paint.

It’s the water tower standing guard over the town that divides the residents into two vocal camps. One of the leading citizens, accustomed to getting everything he wants, is upset when the council decides to put the painting job out to bid rather than give it to his son. That’s the way it has always been done, and suddenly it comes down to Creekers versus “outsiders.”

It is at this point that the novel takes on the same persona as a certain Facebook page. Both camps are very vocal about their respective points of view and are not shy about making sure everyone knows.  Just like the aforesaid Facebook page, there is a lot of bluster, hand wringing, and moaning, but not very much in the way of any answers to the issues faced. 

Thrust into the middle and forced to finally make a decision, Al finds himself in the center of a protest march. Hilarity ensues as the march is deemed illegal by local authorities and the new vet makes a spectacle of herself. In an extreme case of Murphy’s Law, anything that can go wrong does go wrong -- with hilarious results.

The Most Famous Illegal Goose Creek Parade explores how life isn’t everything you’ve expected. It will throw you obstacles that will make you re-evaluate the path you’re on. How you adjust to these obstacles often determine how successful you will be. This novel shows the humor that occurs when all your careful plans are erased with the single-minded, though harmless intentions of your loved one. 

As for the inspirational aspect of the novel, there doesn’t seem to be any overt tendencies. The plot focuses more the relationships between the inhabitants of Goose Creek as well as their interactions with perceived outsiders.  

Living in this small city of Lockport where everyone seems to be their father's brother's nephew's cousin's former roommate, there seems to be a great deal of mistrust with regard to people who were not born here. Even if the people have lived here several decades, that mistrust continues. This is exactly what happens in this novel.

Virginia Smith writes characters that the reader can relate to and empathize with, in a setting that we are all familiar with. It’s a relatively short book and could be finished in just a couple of hours. It would be time well spent. 

This novel is the first in a series. The second installment, Renovating the Richardsons, will be released February 1st. I hope to be able to read both the sequel, and the short story prequel, Dr. Horatio vs the Six-Toed Cat. 

Craig Bacon has all the answers. They may not always be the right answers, but it’s better than nothing.