Jimmy Veeder and Bobby Maves are back at it, two years after the events of Dove Season—they’re not exactly the luckiest guys in the Imperial Valley, but, hey, they win more fights than they lose.
Settled on his own farmland and living like a true family man after years of irresponsible fun, Jimmy’s got a straight life cut out for him. But he’s knocking years off that life thanks to fun-yet-dangerous Bobby’s booze-addled antics—especially now that Bobby is single, volatile as ever, and bored as hell.
When Bobby’s teenage daughter goes missing, he and Jimmy take off on a misadventure that starts out as merely unfortunate and escalates to downright calamitous. Bobby won’t hesitate to kick a hornets’ nest to get the girl to safety, but when the rescue mission goes riotously sideways, the duo’s grit—and loyalty to each other—is put to the test.
About the Author
Johnny received his MFA in screenwriting from UCLA and over the course of his writing career has seen his screenplays optioned, sold, and produced. For the last dozen years, Johnny has taught screenwriting. He has lectured at both Santa Barbara City College and UC Santa Barbara.
Johnny lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife, artist Roxanne Patruznick.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
California’s Imperial Valley, a “stretch of desert between San |Diego and Yuma, as far south and as far east as you could go in California,” is the setting for this new novel from Johnny Shaw, bringing the return of Jimmy Veeder and his best friend, Bobby Maves, described by Jimmy as “an even split between Swiss and Mexican [who] favored Latin in his look, but identified as white. What was called a Rednexican.” Each of the men has become a father, and though one would expect that would have “tamed” them, it does not seem to be the case. Jimmy and Bobby have, with some regularity, embarked upon ‘adventures’ that Jimmy refers to as “Mavescapades,” frequently involving some less-than-legal activities. Jimmy, who adores his five-year-old son, Juan, is a fairly law-abiding individual when not under Bobby’s influence. And there is always a great deal of alcohol consumed. When Bobby’s 15-year-old daughter, Julie, goes missing, the two embark on yet another mission. The novel is often laugh-out-loud funny, although to be sure there is a great deal of mayhem, often at one and the same time, the initial instance on page one. But the other side of that is, e.g., the description of a jail cell as “the dark rainbow of human experience voiced through the cries of the detained.” (Not sure why he is in jail, Jimmy wonders whether being an “accessory to punching a dog in the face was a crime”) Part Two of the book, about half-way through the tale, takes the reader to the eponymous desert area where the rest of the action takes place, including an encounter with a Mexican biker gang, and where a typical establishment is called Ocotillo Beer and Ammo. The terrific writing makes the desert come to life, or what passes for life: feel the heat, inhale the dust, smell the farm animals. A thoroughly entertaining novel, and recommended.
Yikes! What a great book. Johnny Shaw is a writer who keeps getting better, and if he gets any better than this it’ll be downright scary. Johnny Shaw’s debut novel DOVE SEASON (the first Jimmy Veeder Fiasco), was great fun, and garnered a Spotted Owl Award. His second novel, BIG MARIA (without Veeder), was even better, snagging an Anthony Award. Now comes PLASTER CITY, his best yet, and deserving of even greater laurels. Jimmy Veeder and his pal Bobby Maves are back, still wild and crazy, two years after the events of Dove Season. But they’ve grown as characters, and Shaw has grown as a writer. This is a fine novel—witty, wacky and sometimes hilarious, but with a heart, a soul and a brain. As a result, PLASTER CITY is extremely satisfying on several levels. The characters are alive, the plot is compelling, the action is exciting and inventive, and there are real-life serious issues lurking just beneath the surface. There’s plenty of conflict here, as Jimmy and Bobby battle with guns, lead pipes and fists against a biker gang, Mexican mobsters, and even each other. But the most important conflict pits our two heroes—poster boys for irresponsibility—against the pressures of fatherhood. When Bobby’s teenage daughter (a girl he barely knows) goes missing, the two set out on a mad quest to find her and return her to her mother. At the same time, Jimmy’s adopted son Juan is struggling with the traumatic events that brought he and Jimmy together. As Jimmy and Bobby deal with fatherhood in their own ways, Bobby is forced to examine his relationship with his own estranged father, a man every bit as wild an crazy as Bobby himself. Yeah, there are serious issues here, but they never get in the way of the fun. And fun is a big, big factor, beginning with Jimmy’s wise guy narration and intensified by the wacky repartee between the two heroes. And it just keeps on coming, in the choices they make, the company they keep and the messes they get into. The book is subtitled “A Jimmy Veeder Fiasco,” and that’s an understatement. These guys have a knack for turning the simplest tasks into fiascoes, and do so on a regular basis. The result is a non-stop romp through the Southwestern desert. Plaster City is everything a novel should be—engaging, enlightening, and always entertaining. And as I said, Johnny Shaw is still getting better. I can’t wait to see what he does next.
Dan and Kemper just might be reading geniuses. George Pelecanos notwithstanding. After all, even Albert Einstein didn’t get it right all the time. But Johnny Shaw is one beautiful bastard. He even has a great one liner when he was asked to describe PLASTER CITY: “Two dumb guys with a really bad plan.” I mean, crap, how much better could it possibly get. I’d buy that book. And when I was threatened within an inch of my life for previous sins committed against Saint George, I decided that it might be time to trickle out of the darkness and poke my head at the sun. So instead of a live grenade strapped to my waist and a bullwhip wrapped around my neck…well, I chose to live. Being strangled and blown to dust in the middle of California just doesn’t provide me with enough excitement in my world. If you could take all the bad luck in the universe and hand it off to two ignorant bastards, you’d probably choose Jimmy Veeder and Bobby Maves, and these two fools would probably be stupid enough to thank you. But that’s what made them so cute and cuddly. Pure ignorance was coupled with a wave of bliss, and I was left tearing through pages like a gun was pointed at my head with the hammer cocked. Seeing the fiery inferno headed my way, I chose to stand on the sidelines and watch the blaze roll on by. It tore through trees and tumbleweed and California sand before it passed out just short of the San Bernardino Mountains, and I found it hard not to look away. No, I stared directly into the flames, and I might have even had the slightest uptick of a smile. The dialogue punched me in the gut and knocked me on my ass, and some man with steel cables for arms nearly took out my nose. I might have lost two lead pipes in the fight, but I was damn sure going to walk away with my pride. And maybe a stupid grin. In the end, I’d say it was all worth it, and I have no doubt Johnny Shaw and I are going to get along just fine. Robert Downs Author of Falling Immortality: Casey Holden, Private Investigator