KICK ASS by Carl Hiaasen

KICK ASS

Selected Columns of Carl Hiaasen
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A public service to his many fans, this compendium of Miami Herald columns by best-selling novelist Carl Hiaasen (Lucky You, 1997, etc.) reveals an angry, alert civic muckraker in the pugilistic vein of Mencken or Royko. Though best known for his ribald crime fiction, with its meticulous universe of South Florida idiocy and venal conspiracy, Hiaasen cut his teeth as an investigative reporter, and this spirit is strong in both his chosen subjects and his wry attention to unforgiving evidentiary detail. As editor Stevenson notes, the collection’s thrust, which she constructed by sifting through Hiaasen’s 1300-plus columns, was to present his advocacy of —realistic growth and decent government in Florida.— Along the way Hiaasen stops to gut innumerable big fish—crooked politicians, rogue cops, insensate tourists, swollen developers—within a rough chronology reaching back to the cocaine-crazed Reagan ’80s. Although Hiaasen is a truly funny writer, a stern moral compass lies beneath his slapstick. His quixotic outrage regarding the despoliation of his home state (cf. the columnist/terrorist of his Tourist Season, 1986) is as unforgiving as an Uzi, as authentic as a Waffle House breakfast. Hiaasen’s zestful attacks on Miami’s many embarrassing or indicted leaders end up addressing the threats posed, for instance, by the crash overpopulation of Florida, epitomized by the havoc wreaked by Hurricane Andrew upon shoddy developments, a dire issue that pro-business boosters (e.g., The Mouse) labor to minimize. But even the loopier pieces (tame dachshund-eating alligators, Geraldo Rivera’s faked drug raids) are informed by Hiaasen’s unforgiving focus upon the social rot beneath the zany facade. Such columns, like his fiction, reveal Hiaasen as a crystalline, pitiless seer of human weakness in much the same vein as his Floridian forbears, Charles Willeford and Harry Crews. Deeply satisfying, both for what it reveals of the serious priorities of a supposedly light novelist and for the outrageous epic of Florida profiteering and entropy within.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-8130-1717-3
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Univ. Press of Florida
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1999




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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