Now that her six children are grown and somewhat settled, Mrs. Coco’s main concern is promoting Pro Arts, a musical group which she manages. As the book opens, the group is scheduled to perform at the gala black-tie opening of the town’s first BurgerMat.
The musicians of Pro Arts are memorable, offbeat characters such as George Henry, Mrs. Coco’s son, whose current interest is his upcoming wedding to Heidi, the local hot tub saleswoman. Duk Soo Yoon plays second violin and struggles with his undeclared love for Mrs. Coco.
Mrs. Coco’s life becomes complicated when, at an engagement in a mental institution, she meets Ray Jr., a seventeen-year-old who appeals to her in an inexplicable way. This mixed-up, uncontrollable young man takes on a central role when Duk Soo agrees to live with and care for him. At the Cocos one night, while briefly unsupervised, Ray Jr. murders a Chihuahua, believing it to be a killer rat. Duk Soo plans an elaborate cover-up, mistakenly thinking that the tiny dog is Mrs. Coco’s beloved pet. Because of all the trouble, Ray Jr. is returned to the institution. Mrs. Coco is distraught over Duk Soo’s love for her, rumors about the dead Chihuahua, and the plight of poor Ray Jr. Such are the goings on in Tula Springs.
With remarkable attention to details of speech, gesture and eccentricities, James Wilcox creates small-town America comically skewed. This novel, like its predecessor, MODERN BAPTISTS, is richly enjoyable.