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LocalLit book review: 'The True Stories Of Ol' Melvin, Obadiah, Perkins MacGhee and Other Characters' by Ken McGee of Plainfield

Looking for some locally written tall tales and amusing yarns? This might be the book for you.
Looking for some locally written tall tales and amusing yarns? This might be the book for you.

If you take reading very seriously, this is not the book for you.

Ditto is you're a serious writer.

But maybe you knew that by the name.

"The True Stories Of Ol' Melvin, Obadiah, Perkins MacGhee and Other Characters" by Ken McGee of Plainfield is a collection of short stories designed to make you smile and forget about anything serious for a while.

Here is its Amazon description, as if the title wasn't clue enough: "These stories have been written over the course of several years though often quickly. Some were written for my own amusement.

"Others were written for family and friends. Some of the stories are told by Grandpa Joseph Colasantito his granddaughter Emmy.

"Some of them are from the point of view of the protagonist. One begins with me sitting in a recliner.

"Many of these adventures are adapted from the blogs on my website. All are meant to be lighthearted entertainment."

Although these stories are most definitely lighthearted, McGee anchors some of them to his own experiences and all of them hark back to a time when life seemed simpler,

The first series of stories center around the fictional Perkins MacGhee, well fictional to the readers, but supposedly a real person in the stories Grandpa tells his little granddaughter Emmy about the history of her town, which is similar to Joliet.

In fact, Grandpa tells one of those stories as they walk through Pilchner Park. This is how Grandpa described Perkins to Emmy

“He was a giant of a man. Several inches over six feet tall with long flowing hair under a hat made from beaver hides and had a full bushy beard. He dressed in animal skins and spoke in a strange language.”

Perkins, Grandpa told Emmy, came from Scotland to do some trading and named one body of water Kinmundy River.

However, the real Kinmundy is in Marion County, Illinois and is believed to be named after a real place in Scotland. McGee himself (Ken, the author, not Perkins) grew up in Kinmundy and wrote a novel set in that location.

But his "last of the singing cowboy" stories that are also in this collection was inspired from a singing cowboy McGee, a fan of "The Lone Ranger," encountered when he was a boy in Kinmundy. This story is a poignant one; be sure to read it.

Finally, "Clay Horn Recovers" is McGee's nod to the movie serials from the 1930s and 1940s that he enjoyed, "action compacted into 30 minutes," McGee wrote and always ending on a cliffhanger.

In fact, McGee prefaced the story with this:

"Those of you who are old enough to remember a more innocent time, sit back, relax and follow me back to those thrilling days of yesteryear."

If you're too young to remember, read these stories to enjoy a slice of pop culture that is gone and revel in a time when storytelling was a delightful way to pass an hour.

Either way, be prepared to smile - and to get to know the author on a personal level, too.

Know more about LocalLit

Each week LocalLit will deliver an original short and family-friendly story (or a book review) by a local author to the newsletter's subscribers. Authors with a connection to our readership area may submit.  Submission does not guarantee acceptance.

Contact Denise M. Baran-Unland at 815-280-4122

To sign up for the free LocalLit newsletter and read the book review on Tuesday, visit

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