Friday 10 December 2010

Carl Hiaasen

Romps, rollicking good yarns, flawed heroes, outlandish baddies, behaviour that sounds almost over the top in a novel but can be googled in Florida news sites: Carl Hiaasen has a sense of the absurd and a nose for corruption that shine through his novels.

Born and bred a Floridan, working at the Miami News since his early twenties, Hiaasen has long been admirably placed to see and record the misdoings of the human wildlife that tramples his state. Politicians with their hands out, redneck celebrities with other things out, businesmen who pour dollars into secret bank accounts and toxic waste into the Everglades, all appear in his novels.

Florida Everglades: Alligator
Floridan politician solicits campaign donations

He takes the mickey out of himself on his own biography page: actually I use the word mickey deliberately as he's also written a viciously entertaining diatribe against Disney called Team Rodent. Subtitled How Disney Devours the World, Hiaasen exposes some of the reality behind the magic corporate kingdom. He hasn't repeated the feat but I look forward earnestly to his take on the Enron debacle if ever he writes it.

Unlike many journalists, Carl Hiaasen is an expert novelist. He understands the different pacing between the two modes and lets his characters do the talking -- even when they're shooting at property developers and ordinary everyday assholes.

His books contain humour, both dark and light. He may take the issues seriously but not himself, and there is some of himself in the various heroes who get caught up in murky situations through little fault of their own, bar curiosity and a general sense that the world has too many idiots and villains.

As to his villains: he treads a difficult path where some are almost caricatures but remain sadly believable. The clever villains are cunning, the less-clever are sly, the murderous psychos are murderously funny. If they're not killing you with a Weed Wacker, that is.

Hiaasen also writes good strong female characters: something quite unusual for a US fiction writer (and almost unknown in male-authored modern English fiction).

Recommended if you like the aforesaid rollicking good yarns, fast and furious, with a huge dose of satire fed in.

Carl Hiaasen's own site

Miami Herald Judges being censured, a public health official resigning, saying the strain of having her integrity questioned was too much (so she'd forgotten that she'd voted a huge payment to a mate -- we've all been there).

Find him on Amazon:

All Carl Hiaasen's Books


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