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The year is , and it is just before Christmas in the Eastern Oklahoma town of Sequoyah. Molly O is like a mom to Caney, having helped raise him when he lost his own parents. When Caney opened the Honk and Holler Opening Soon twelve years ago, he wanted the biggest, flashiest neon sign around.

The sign became the town joke. Now, the joke has worn thin for Caney. A paraplegic since the age of seventeen when he fell out of a helicopter in Vietnam, he is confined to a wheelchair and has confined himself to life inside the diner. The restaurant is losing money, failing like the nearly deserted highway that runs by outside.

The Honk and Holler Opening Soon by Billie Letts

But the regulars at the diner are steadfast. Life Halstead eats his three meals a day there just to be close to Molly O. Wanda Sue, the town gossip, drops in frequently. Peg Porter-Bilbo, hooked up to oxygen because of her emphysema, visits the restaurant with her husband Bilbo, a three-pack-a-day smoker.

Vena Takes Horse, a Crow Indian woman, arrives at the diner in a short yellow dress, faded jean jacket and red cowboy boots. Her face is all hard angles and edges. Initially, she sleeps in an abandoned school bus near the diner, but as she and Caney grow closer, she accepts the offer to stay on his couch. Vena learned how to make healing salves, poultices, and teas from her Cherokee grandpa, and she nurses the little dog back to health. Bui Khanh, a Vietnamese refugee, is also running from the past: he was in a car crash.

The other driver, a nameless blonde lady, was angry. Bui cheerfully tells Caney he is there to work. Soft-hearted Caney hires Bui for one day only—but Bui stays on as a terrible cook, yet efficient handyman.

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I read Where the Heart Is many years ago and loved it, so I picked this one up in the US for something to read, didn't get to it until I got home but loved it the minute I started reading it. She creates the most wonderful characters, and like my other favourite author Tim Winton, her skill is in creating characters that are flawed but beautiful.

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View all 3 comments. Mar 29, Dennis rated it it was amazing Shelves: so-gothic. This is a great read because it's like the comfort food served at the Honk. By the end of the book I cared a great deal about these quirky characters and their marginal lives. I finished the book on a road trip where it was reported Billy Letts had died. Her writer's voice was one on most naturally genuine and full of heart on the landscape of American fiction.

I salute Billy Letts and wish she would have lived to produce a larger body of work. Her voice will be sorely missed. Apr 09, Marleen rated it really liked it Shelves: favorites. Re-reading it pleases me immensely.


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  • The reader is introduced to simple but genuine, quirky and amazingly touching characters. The majority of the characters living in Sequoyah, Oklahoma feel quite authentic; they are plain and decent people sometimes eccentric and that representation of "normal" folks appeals to me tremendously. This time around — rereading - I was mostly moved by Bui Kahn, the Vietnamese immigrant. That man has the purest soul. By the way, his turn of phrases in the English language are often hilarious. The events happening here are a slice of life. No more to it. Jul 23, Bruce Smith rated it it was amazing Shelves: slice-of-life , literary , post-vietnam , oklahoma.

    This is at least the second time I've read this book, and it hasn't lost anything with age. It is still a good read with interesting characters. It is a bit funny, and yet contains real life problems, and real people working out their problems. Jul 09, Jessika rated it really liked it Shelves: fiction , wishlist , southern-lit. Ahh--now here is the type of book I've been waiting to sink my teeth into since summer rolled into town!

    I feel like every time I write a review, my main focus is on characterization, but for me, the characters and how I feel about them are what really make a book for me. An author can write with the most elegant prose on the face of the Earth, but if I can't feel a connection to the characters, I can't get into it.

    This is the first time I've ever read anything by Billie Letts, but I'm already Ahh--now here is the type of book I've been waiting to sink my teeth into since summer rolled into town! This is the first time I've ever read anything by Billie Letts, but I'm already anxious to read more. There is something about the way she writes her characters--they are so authentic and real. This is a fiction novel that I would not have a hard time imagining actually taking place. Actually, it's kinda weird to think that Molly O isn't out there waiting on Brenda or that Caney isn't wheeling around the Honk somewhere.

    Letts fills you in about her characters in such subtle ways, too. It almost brings to mind how you get to know people in real life--you don't sit down and hear their life stories all at once usually.

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    Bits and pieces here and there are dished out to clue you in on a person, and that's how Letts writes her characters. Even her minor characters were paid due attention so that even the regular Joes who came to the Honk had a voice.

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    The dialogue was to die for--I could "hear" each of the characters as they spoke. I just loved it. I was also kinda surprised by how fast of a read this was. I'd sit down and look up pages later shocked that I had read that much in seemingly so little time. This is an incredibly "readable" novel. Letts is not heavy on the descriptive language--hers is a more straightforward style. But certain passages really did take my breath away, such as the part where without giving too much away Caney finally faces his demons and sees the world around him.

    I loved flipping back to those pages again and again to immerse myself in that simple and yet poignant writing. Overall, Billie Letts has given us a story that everyone can relate to. It is a story about regular people living their lives and yet discovering the meaning behind it as they go along. This was a book that took me on a nice, winding journey. The Brenda storyline left me unsatisfied though, and while I released that not everything can be tied up in a nice tidy package, there were bits that didn't ring true for me - for example, the introduction and picture of my mind of Vena really didn't match up with eh outcome at the end of th This was a book that took me on a nice, winding journey.

    The Brenda storyline left me unsatisfied though, and while I released that not everything can be tied up in a nice tidy package, there were bits that didn't ring true for me - for example, the introduction and picture of my mind of Vena really didn't match up with eh outcome at the end of the book.

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    The Honk and Holler Opening Soon, by Billie Letts **** | Seattle Book Mama

    I found Bui delightful though! Fav character by far. Feb 22, Barb rated it liked it. Good story line and character development. Like a literary version of TV shows like Cheers that center around a place but the rich characters are what drives the story! Enjoyed it :. Jan 18, L' Te rated it it was amazing.

    Brown shriveled leaves, blowing with wild abandon and caught up in a maelstrom of loneliness and isolation. Emotionally crippled with the impossible reality of Never Never finding that place of belonging.