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.
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.
Colonel Top Secret, according to Agent X, believes that many things point to the inevitable disintegration of the United States, including “way too much government spending and way too much debt.” He points to America’s “inflated national pride,” and the country’s government spending three times more on national defense than China and almost ten times more than Russia. What concerns the audience the most is not that, though, but what Colonel Top Secret says about football.
Agent X says that Colonel Top Secret believes America “is now faced with the unkindest cut of all.” That is that, because of African American football players in the NFL refusing to stand for the National Anthem, attendance is down at the games, as is TV viewership. Agent X goes on, stating that Colonel Top Secret also feels that “College football, high school football and peewee football are fated to follow the so-called NFL onto the trash heap of history.”
This comment elicits moans and groans from the audience. The Oklahoma Sooner fans in attendance appear to consider that prophecy to be the most disconcerting and worrisome one of all the ones that Agent X relates. College football and the prestige of being in an important football conference and big time football program are paramount to many of the ardent Sooner fans at the lecture, so they are dismayed by the possibility that college football will follow the route of the NFL.
In Brokla, Simon Plaster satirizes many more topics and controversial issues than the over-blown importance of football to both the United States and Oklahoma and the possibility that the decline in football’s importance could lead to the breaking up of the country. One of the other characters Plaster writes about is Jane Burrows, the leader of the Feministas. “Calamity Jane,” as she’s been nicknamed, gains notoriety across the panhandle by leading an uprising of progressive women in committing acts like burning thousands of acres of farm land and castrating the hogs of pig farmers.
They are protesting the over-use of the limited water left in the Ogallala Aquafer deep underneath the Oklahoma panhandle area by the farmers there, and they want to rid the Plains of White Man’s idea of civilization. The Antifas mentioned in Brokla, who are also interested in the goals of Calamity Jane and her band of women, attempt to join up with them. They are told they can participate, if they sleep far enough away from the women that Burrows leads.
Brokla is a humorous and thought-provoking read that can be enjoyed as a stand-alone novel. The other books in the series that features reporter Henrietta, like Spot and BOO!, are also terrific and fun books to read. If you like reading satirical books, I’d highly recommend checking out Brokla and the other novels written by Simon Plaster, one of America’s foremost authors of the genre.