29 May 2010

"The Adventures of Slim & Howdy" by Kix Brooks & Ronnie Dunn with Bill Fitzhugh

The Adventures of Slim & Howdy
Kix Brooks & Ronnie Dunn with Bill Fitzhugh
Date of Publication: 12 May 2008
257 Pages
Cover Price: $22.99
ISBN: 1-931722-82-X

Had Brooks & Dunn been active in the entertainment industry even a decade earlier than they were, they likely would have starred in a made-for-TV movie with a plot not too dissimilar from that of this novel.  As it stands, this works better as a novel anyway; Slim and Howdy are so obviously Brooks & Dunn (or, more accurately, Howdy is Brooks and Slim is Dunn) that there's little need to see this played out on a screen.  The book even has its own soundtrack; not only are phrases and titles from numerous songs scattered throughout (many, though not all of them from their own repertoire), the hardback edition includes an exclusive CD single of a song called "Gotta Get Me One of Those."

The story follows two wanna-be musicians brought together by fate in Texas who bear more than a passing resemblance to the authors.  It's not as blatant as Richard Belzer's fictionalized adventures in I Am Not a Cop! (they at least gave their literary counterparts different names), but it's pretty clear that while the main plot is a contrivance, the details originated with the real experiences of the authors--or, at the least, embellishments based on stories they've accumulated over the years.  It doesn't really matter where they came from; the details in this novel are colorful.

Slim and Howdy meet at a used car lot, each hoping to sell his car to an owner with more supply than demand.  They realize they're better off throwing in their lot with one another, and so is born a partnership that leads the two into shenanigans with party girl thieves, a dishonest game of chance and a kidnapping.  There's little in the way of real suspense; these are likable characters, but they're likable because they're really Brooks & Dunn and it's amusing to read passages describing their competing with one another over the proper way to drive.  That the story progresses at all is, at times, an imposition on a slice-of-life anecdote.

Structure-wise, there are sixty-three chapters plus an epilogue in less than 300 pages.  They're not self-contained vignettes; they read more like the literary equivalent of a movie serial.  In this, I was reminded of Craig Ferguson's impressive Between the Bridge and the River, which also relied on a succession of brief scenes to advance its overarching plot.  That's to say, expect to turn pages frequently, because things happen very quickly--and often.

Is The Adventures of Slim and Howdy an essential addition to one's library?  No.  It's an amusing supplement to a Brooks & Dunn collection, and it's a delightful bit of light reading.  I found it went very well with my hammock in the backyard, with honeysuckle in the air and the sun on my face.  Reading this won't make you a better person, but it might make you more relaxed.

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