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SICK PUPPY by Carl Hiaasen


by Carl Hiaasen

Pub Date: Jan. 11th, 2000
ISBN: 0-679-45445-4
Publisher: Knopf

Will another unspoiled Florida island be turned into a paradise for golfers and crooked developers and politicians? Hiassen tells all in this hilariously barbed but rambling exposÇ. The richness of the satire is indicated by the fetishes given nearly every participant to the controversy over Shearwater (Toad) Island. Lobbyist Palmer Stoat lives to make deals, smoke cigars, and hunt the senile denizens of the local Wilderness Veldt Plantation. The pliant target of his latest campaign, Gov. Dick Artemus, still approaches every human relationship as another exercise in selling Toyotas. Hopeful Shearwater developer Robert Clapley, who never got over his adolescent attachment to Barbie dolls, is surgically enhancing a pair of willing young women to resemble twin Barbies. Clapley’s soft-spoken enforcer, Mr. Gash, collects recordings of 911 emergency calls. Twilly Spree, the angry young man who gives the novel its title, is a self-appointed nemesis to litterbugs like Palmer Stoat. It’s only Palmer’s long-suffering wife Desirata who escapes getting labeled by her hangup, and that’s because, like Palmer’s black Lab Boodle, whom Twilly kidnaps and renames McGuinn, she functions as a hangup herself for so many others. But though the inventive connections between fetishism and capitalism, lobbying and extortion, anger management and tyranny show Hiaasen the satirist—last glimpsed in the columns collected in Kick Ass (p. 1546)—at the top of his game, Hiaasen the novelist relies on too many coincidences, too shaggy a plot, and too many curtain calls for crazy sage Clinton Tyree (Stormy Weather, 1995, etc.), the one-eyed ex-governor/wild man who personifies everything the author only wishes were true of Florida politics. Not top-drawer Hiaasen, then, but its selling points do include much sex, none of it in the missionary position, and a detailed concluding account of the characters— later lives, in the manner of Dickens on ‘ludes.