PARADISE SCREWED by Carl Hiaasen

PARADISE SCREWED

Selected Columns of Carl Hiaasen
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A second helping of dry wit and gale-force malice from South Florida’s native Ambrose Bierce.

While Hiaasen remains known as a bestselling crime novelist (Sick Puppy, 1999, etc.), he’s also gained attention since 1985 with his twice-weekly column for the Miami Herald, first anthologized in Kick Ass (1999). This second collection dovetails equally well with his fiction, providing factual depictions of the many social controversies and fiascoes that inspire his novel-parodies. As the title implies, most of the material here centers on the malign yet absurd forces that have overwhelmed the Sunshine State. As Hiaasen realizes, many of these issues—overdevelopment, municipal corruption, gun proliferation, human naïveté in the face of nature—are occurring on a national level. Most of his columns either address their subjects via deadpan reportage laced with energetic mockery (“Florida’s new [1987] handgun law, also known as the Mortician’s Relief Act, officially makes us the most dangerous state in America”) or descend enthusiastically into the outright satire of his fiction. From a 1998 column entitled “A Few Minutes at City Hall”: “Old Business: Bi-Monthly Firing of City Manager. . . . Another recess is called while the Key to the City is presented to actor Sylvester Stallone.” While the persistence of crass corruption in South Florida draws many such zingers (as does the recent Florida-centered election fiasco), Hiaasen clearly understands and addresses the big picture: the way an intractable tangle of such problems has accelerated the degradation of Florida’s once-pristine natural resources and the disappearance of its genuine rural culture. Other favorite targets include the religious and cultural right, hack politicians who cynically exploit homophobia and racial tensions, and the banality and hypocrisy beneath Florida’s sunny civic facade of athletics and theme parks.

These sharp, amusing pieces confirm Hiaasen’s status as a bird so rare—the humorous popular novelist with an acutely critical social perspective—that he’s practically an endangered species.

Pub Date: Oct. 5th, 2001
ISBN: 0-399-14791-8
Page count: 432pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2001




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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