DANCE OF THE REPTILES by Carl Hiaasen

DANCE OF THE REPTILES

Rampaging Tourists, Marauding Pythons, Larcenous Legislators, Crazed Celebrities, and Tar-Balled Beaches: Selected Columns
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Miami Herald columnist and best-selling novelist Hiaasen (Bad Monkey, 2013, etc.) wages a relentless war of words against those who would despoil his home state and cheapen a nation: the greedy, the corrupt and the stupid.

The author knows better than most Edward Abbey’s dictum: Growth for its own sake, unrestrained, is the philosophy of the cancer cell. As Florida’s population grows, taxpayers usually foot the bill not only for sprawl and environmental degradation, but also for every crackpot scheme heralding an economic boon. In this collection of his muckraking columns, Hiaasen employs a seasoned bullshit detector that is among the most acute in American journalism. He pillories everything from coastal development run amok to the folly of offshore oil drilling, from efforts at gutting the Environmental Protection Agency and Endangered Species Act to bungling by the Army Corps of Engineers. While dissections of decay dominate, also in his cross hairs are capital punishment, corporate welfare, “intelligent design,” Medicare fraud, corporate lobbyists, manipulated elections, mortgage scams, legislative complicity in the exploitation of migrant workers, Vatican stonewalling on child sexual abuse, the National Rifle Association’s disproportionate influence, feckless televangelists, a hyperventilating news media and, of course, the Iraq/Afghanistan debacle. Though he occasionally goes to the well once too often, Hiaasen, also a writer of satirical fiction, wields the facts, finely tuned outrage and an eviscerating sarcasm to potent effect. Were his broadsides not armed with solid reportage, these columns might begin to sound overheated—a scathingly anti-business, anti-Republican rant—save that he invariably dispenses scorn (or credit) where it’s due, to whomever deserves it. Hiaasen is not so much unabashedly liberal as steadfastly sensible, his humor fueled by righteous dismay.

If Florida is the poster child for a nation’s fiscal and political disintegration, Hiaasen is the state’s galloping knight (in)errant, slaying the dragons of ineptitude, arrogance and idiocy.

Pub Date: Jan. 21st, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-345-80702-1
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Vintage
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2013




Kirkus Interview
Carl Hiaasen
author of RAZOR GIRL
November 7, 2016

In Razor Girl, Carl Hiaasen’s new novel, when Lane Coolman's car is bashed from behind on the road to the Florida Keys, what appears to be an ordinary accident is anything but. Behind the wheel of the other car is Merry Mansfield—the eponymous Razor Girl—and the crash scam is only the beginning of events that spiral crazily out of control while unleashing some of the wildest characters Hiaasen has ever set loose on the page. There's Trebeaux, the owner of Sedimental Journeys--a company that steals sand from one beach to restore erosion on another…Dominick "Big Noogie" Aeola, a NYC mafia capo with a taste for tropic-wear…Buck Nance, a Wisconsin accordionist who has rebranded himself as the star of a redneck reality show called Bayou Brethren…and Andrew Yancy—formerly Detective Yancy, busted down to the Key West roach patrol after accosting his then-lover's husband with a Dust Buster. Yancy believes that if he can singlehandedly solve a high-profile murder, he'll get his detective badge back. That the Razor Girl may be the key to Yancy's future will be as surprising as anything else he encounters along the way—including the giant Gambian rats that are livening up his restaurant inspections. “How can Hiaasen possibly tie together all this monkey business in the end?” our reviewer asks in a starred review. “His delirious plotting is so fine-tuned that preposterous complications that would strain lesser novelists fit right into his antic world. Relax, enjoy, and marvel anew at the power of unbridled fictional invention.” View video >

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