- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (May 1, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0446675059
- ISBN-13: 978-0446675055
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 8.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 308 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #154,626 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Honk and Holler Opening Soon Paperback – May 1, 1999
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About the Author
Billie Letts was the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of Where the Heart Is, The Honk and Holler Opening Soon, Shoot the Moon, and Made in the U.S.A. A native Oklahoman, she died in 2014.
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Caney Paxton is the owner of a restaurant called The Honk and Holler Opening Soon. The name was actually a drunken accident and is now a local joke in Sequoyah, Oklahoma. Caney, a paraplegic after a stint in Vietnam, hasn't been outside the restaurant in 12 years. MollyO is his only waitress and a surrogate mother. Soon, two strangers will show up at the door and bring many changes to the restaurant, as well as Caney and MollyO. Vena Takes Horse is a caring and giving woman who has spent most of her short life running away from her past. Bui Khanh is a young Vietnamese immigrant who is trying to earn enough money to bring his young bride to the United States. All four carry baggage, but somehow, each one contributes something important to the group--although something dark and menacing threatens their new-found contentment.
Billie Letts has a down-home style of writing which reminds me of Anne Tyler--if Tyler lived in Oklahoma. Some of her writing is quite funny. "If anyone could outwhine an Oklahoma windstorm, it was Merle Haggard singing about low-down women and low-life men." But her writing can also be reflective and sad. Caney won't take any sympathy for being a wheelchair-bound Vietnam veteran as his injury didn't come from actual battle. "Caney knew he didn't belong, knew he couldn't claim to have anything in common with those men...men missing eyes, hands, testicles...men fed through tubes in their bellies...men who held themselves and rocked, staring, seeing nothing. Those men had given up parts of their bodies, pieces of their minds, to kill an enemy they couldn't see, to save friends they couldn't forget, to take a piece of ground they wouldn't own."
For an avid reader, there is nothing like the thrill of discovering a previously unknown author and The Honk and Holler Opening Soon was a wonderful surprise. I have already started another book by Letts, Where the Heart Is, and plan to read everything that she has written.
Once again, Ms. Letts captures a slice of Americana with vanilla ice cream on the side. Her story involves very unique characters that literally fall out of cars and trucks on the door step of The Honk and Holler (Opening Soon).
The cafe has been open and is central to the town it serves. The sign is an error which has subjected the owner to more teasing than any one should have to take. But, it works in Caney Paxton's favor, for as the owner he has benefited from the notoriety of the mistake. Unfortunately, he really doesn't appreciate the up side of the down side.
Caney lives with a sense of failure. He is a Viet Nam vet and suffered a serious injury which has turned his world upside down into a right side up wheel chair. He vacillates between feeling sorry for himself and down right angry, not to mention, hopeless and spiritless. He goes through the motions of the very demanding responsibilities of running the cafe and eventually allows himself to be bound mentally and physically to the boundary of the cafe. Shielding himself behind the responsibilities of the cafe management never allow him to recognize how fearful of life this once very strong and courageous man has become.
Together with Molly O, described as a "mother hen" and senior waitress, they encounter a unique cast of characters landing on the doorstep of the Honk and Hollar begging for jobs and temporary refuge. The assortment of people literally change the life and world of Caney. When the door swings open, and it is not a customer, Caney doesn' t realize, but he is in for a world of change and challenge.
Lucky for us, we are along for the ride.