Saturday, August 12, 2023

Now Is Not the Time to Panic by Kevin Wilson

Now Is Not the Time to Panic by Kevin Wilson is an entertaining novel by the author of the excellent book Nothing to See Here

In his latest work, Wilson tells the story of Frankie and Zeke, teenagers in the fictional town of Coalfield, TN who unwittingly start a local panic that becomes national news. They created and surreptitiously put up with a poster with Zeke's drawings and sixteen-year-old Frankie's phrase "The edge is a shantytown filled with gold seekers. We are fugitives, the law is skinny with hunger for us."

The book tells of them putting up hundreds of posters, and then people copycatted them, putting up scores more, with many in the population latching on to fanciful ideas of the posters having been created by a satanic cult looking to bring harm to the town. Interested people descended on Coalfield in such numbers that the town for a period of time was shut off from outside visitors to try to maintain order. The poster was then recreated and distributed outside of Coalfield, entering the popular imagination and discourse, featured on 20/20 and mentioned on Saturday Night Live.

Wilson tells about the summer this all took place, and then what happened twenty years later with Frankie (who became a popular novelist), Zeke, and the creation story of the poster. It's a good tale from Wilson that deals in friendship, adolescence, art, hysteria, and secrets.