"White trash to pick up trash," read the headline and so the story unfolds. Imagine a respected family from rural Missouri, a family with typical problems in their workaday lives. What if the patriarch of the family had been involved in white supremacist activities in the distant past and was coasting on romantic notions of that time? What if he applied in the name of the Ku Klux Klan to join in the State's Adopt-A-Highway program, and had to fight an uphill battle to make it happen? What if the courts ruled in his favor and he enlisted his grandson, an army vet, to bag the highway trash? What if Litter Patrol on the outskirts of St. Louis was an even more dangerous mission than those he'd experienced in Iraq? What if that patriarch was gradually slipping into dementia and perhaps unmindful of the conniving forces--neighbors, reporters, state bureaucrats, the hierarchy of the Klan itself--hoping to take advantage of the snowball he has set in motion. Imagine that and you have the bones of NO BIG THING, a funny, thoughtful take on the obvious and not-so-obvious forms of discrimination. Throw in a colorful cast of supporting characters--a rough-and-tumble meth dealer, a fledgling social anthropologist, a Baptist minister, a Deadhead with wanderlust, a recreational thief with a unique specialty, and you have a novel that could take its place on a library shelf somewhere between Hiassen and Vonnegut.
NO BIG THING is based on actual events that took place in and around St. Louis in the 1990s and involved litigation that went all the way to the United States Supreme Court.
Plot: The novel is deftly plotted and moves along at a good clip. Readers will likely find the ending a bit abrupt—but this may be the author's way of hinting at further mayhem; if so, it's a touch too subtle.
Prose: The writing here is nearly faultless. The author's prose has verve and is a pleasure to read.
Originality: This novel is original and engaging. The author has clearly done a lot of research and tells a tale that is fascinating and entirely relevant to current events.
Character Development: The author creates interesting, vivid, and fully-formed characters. Readers will be invested in this story and its unique characters.
Blurb: This vividly imagined historical novel is a compelling, eye-opening, and important read.
Date Submitted: August 04, 2017
Wm. Stage's No Big Thing recalls Faulkner's admonition that "The past is never dead. It's not even past."This fictional account of an actual lawsuit between the Ku Klux Klan and Missouri Department of Transportation could be [and was] an item for the 6 pm news... Stage's light style and smooth writing present an interesting story, raising issues that Americans have debated since the infancy of our Nation. Great fiction does more than tell an interesting story; it provokes thought and discussion beyond the book's pages. No Big Thing does precisely that, and is a book you should read.