Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Book Review: "Star Island" by Carl Hiaasen

Hiassen is an icon. He's been one of my favorite writers for most of my adult life.  I love his newspaper columns.  His fiction has often made me laugh until my sides hurt.

This one didn't make me laugh.  The prose was as crisp as always. There were passages that thrilled me with the wonderful writing.

Unfortunately, this one was a little dark for my tastes. Granted, I love the ex-governor of Florida, Skink, who is crazy and lives in the swamp.  That's a cool spin on the "you have to be crazy to want to be governor of a looney bin like this place" themes that crop up in the writing of anybody who's lived here for more than a month.

What I didn't love was the all-too-Britney-like main character or her loser parents, or any of the other characters for that matter.

In all honesty, the book struck me as something Hiassen banged out because he had a book due to his publisher and this seemed like an easy topic to get crazy with.  Maybe that was the problem.  It's too easy to take a caricature character and turn her into a, well, caricature.  It might have been more interesting if he had taken the caricature of the can't-sing-singer and turned her into an interesting, multi-dimensional and (maybe even) sympathetic character.  I have no doubt that if that could be done, Hiaasen's the guy who could do it.

This one didn't rise to the level of my (high) expectations for Hiaasen's work.

That said, the dude can write some of the best character description I've ever read, and nobody  can nail the true character of Florida like he can. That is enough.  He's still among my idols.

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