So every few years, I end up asking people if they have, by any chance, read this book that I once stumbled across when I was about twelve. Things get a little silent and complicated when I explain that I can recall neither its name nor its author and I’m a bit hazy about the plot as well.
Hey, it’s been a while since I was twelve, alright? What do you want from me? If it helps any, I read it in one of those Reader’s Digest condensed works volumes from 1970-something. It could have been 1960-something too. I wasn’t paying attention to the publication details.
It was summer, I was bored, this book was funny, it was there. I would like to read it again. Here’s what I remember of it –
The story is set in America, in a rural town. It centers around this eccentric family that’s not too bright. There’s an ornery old patriarch who shows up occasionally to do things like refuse to sell the family farm so the town can put up something in the name of progress in its place (my brain says “hydroelectric dam” but I know that can’t be true! Shopping mall, maybe? But did they have those in the 60s and 70s? What was progress back then? That thing).
Then there’s his son, let’s call him The Cutie, who’s beefy and hunky and completely dimwitted in an interesting kind of way – you know, the kind of guy you’d sit and listen to for hours because you can’t believe what’s coming out of his mouth? But he’s also a nice guy. Which is why a psychiatrist and the schoolteacher both want a piece of him.
Those two ladies come in because of the twins. The twins are the younger siblings (?) of The Cutie. Pre-adolescents. And they’re quite sharp so they leave him puzzled.They might be fraternal or identical, I don’t remember which. They might also be his nephews/ nephew and niece. Definitely not a pair of girls though.
Things happen and the mayor or somesuch sees an opportunity to twist the arm of The Cutie and the patriarch by threatening to take the kids away because the father-son duo are clearly too stupid to take care of them. The district attorney sends a psychiatrist to evaluate the living situation and after flirting heavily with The Cutie without getting anywhere (primarily because he’s too dumb to see a come on when he sees one), she submits a report that says he hates the kids.
The schoolteacher then comes to his rescue (there’s an entertaining passage that hints at the courtroom drama to come when she asks him why he said “kidnap” when he and the psychiatrist played word association and she mentioned the twins – and he says that the twins are kids and kids take naps so he said “kid nap”. Groan). She’s dazzled by the fact that he’s so darn cute and so darn stupid and finally decides to take things into her own hands and seduces him.
Next comes a courtroom battle which, if I remember correctly, left me screaming with laughter and the presiding judge with a bad headache. Things end well with Authority being defeated by the power of good old fashioned stupidity and the judge tells them never to darken his court again.
Does anyone out there know what I’m talking about? *crossed fingers*
Update: Well, you lot were a fat lot of help! Not only haven’t any of you read anything like it, you made me wonder if I’d actually read it myself. The nerve! So an hour of intense and imaginative googling later, here’s what I found out: there is too a novel much like what I’ve described above (except for the part where I totally blanked on major plot points or otherwise messed it up) and it’s called Pioneer, Go Home!
A full eleven people have read it on Amazon and concur with my opinion of it (to wit: awesome!). You can read it too for the affordable price of $145. Ahem. If that breaks your budget, then Elvis Presley made a movie called Follow That Dream! based on it (all together now: “WTF?!”), so…
It appeared in Volume 40 of the Reader’s Digest Condensed Books’ Winter collection of 1960. I’m sending out a big kiss and good thoughts to whichever clever person at RD thought it might be a good idea to publish a list of titles. Long may your tribe increase.
It was written by Richard Powell who also wrote The Philadelphian which I vaguely remember reading. It’s a lot more memorable as the Paul Newman movie The Young Philadelphians though. The other book written by Powell that I can recommend is Don Quixote, USA which was almost as funny as Pioneer, Go Home!