Select one of the keywords
Pioneer, Go Home!: 50th Anniversary Edition    by Richard Powell order for
Pioneer, Go Home!
by Richard Powell
Order:  USA  Can
Plexus, 2009 (2009)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I have read and re-read Richard Powell's Pioneer, Go Home! more times than I can remember, and have roared with laughter all over again each and every time. It's a tale - of a quixotic (but also canny and stubborn) stand against inane bureaucracy and lack of common sense in government - that stands the test of time. Now this hilarious epic of heroic, homesteading Kwimpers is being made available to a new generation of readers in a 50th Anniversary Edition from Plexus Publishing, Inc. (who also re-released Powell's excellent The Philadelphian last year).

It all starts when Pop Kwimper (whose close relationship with the government on relief, Unemployment Compensation, etc., makes him believe he's not one of the Public) ignores a Closed to the Public road sign while returning from a driving vacation in Florida. With Pop is his son, 'naive young giant' Toby, who's a veteran on Total Disability (after putting his back out lifting a jeep); the (vaguely related to Pop and Toby) seven-year-old, full-of-mischief twins Eddy and Teddy; and their babysitter Holly Jones, who joined the family as a young runaway and works hard at showing Toby that she's all grown up now.

The Kwimpers drive down this highway betterment project and end up out of gas and stranded where 'the road had just come off the mainland and was going along a fill dredged up from the bay.' In true pioneering spirit - and taking advantage of Holly's book learning - they settle in this no man's land, despite all bureaucratic attempts to dislodge them. These are made by both the District Director of Public Improvements and the County Welfare Supervisor, who acts the woman scorned after Toby rejects her. They also survive the attempts of a gangster (who plans to operate a casino beside them) to blow them up.

Toby has a Candide kind of innocence and honesty that consistently manages to reflect evildoers' actions back on them. Holly works hard to inoculate him against other women's advances, and to protect her small family (the way she handles Miss Claypoole's word-association test is classic). And these delightful folk inadvertently draw to themselves neighbors, bored almost to death from living in the over-orderly Sunset Gardens retirement community. But of course, the bureaucrats do wear them down, dragging the Kwimpers into court - which is when the fun really begins.

The judge calls the Kwimpers the last pioneers and 'the kind of ornery people who built our nation.' After all their trials and tribulations, they get to keep their land - and they even end up paying taxes, leading to Toby's parting comment: 'I reckon us Kwimpers are crazy, after all.' If you haven't managed to read Richard Powell's superbly satirical story yet, then you have another chance in this brand new 50th Anniversary Edition. Don't miss it!!

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Historical books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews