Tuesday, September 16, 2008

10,000 islands, nine nuts

Title: Nature Girl
Author: Carl Hiaasen
Bookmark: an AARP card I got in the mail. I don't know why. I'm 28.

Hiaasen, like many authors, has a pattern. Location in Florida. Add a large handful of characters more colorful than a Liberace stage show, ranging from the criminally insane to the simply nutty. Remove almost all redeemable character traits. Shake well. Hilarity ensues.

Having a pattern doesn't mean it's not worth a look. I picked this up the same day I grabbed my other distraction book, for pretty much the same reasons, plus I saw it on the big table in the middle of the library. Impulse shopping is much easier when no money is involved.

Honey Santana has an exceptionally intuitive 12 year old son, a home in a trailer park, and an obsessive streak about cosmic justice and raising her son well in a world gone mad, even if it means altering the world and all its denizens along the way.

Boyd Shreave is a slimeball telemarketer. It's pretty much the only thing he's good at, and he's not particularly good. The big attraction for him is the tall, busty Eugenie Fonda (not her birth name) in the next cube. He maintains an energetic and ill-advised affair with her.

His wife Lily sends a PI to get evidence of Boyd's philandering, but eventually just sends the PI after really explicit evidence, because apparently she likes to watch.

Sammy Tigertail is a half-Seminole trying to escape the white man's world, but ends up getting a willing "hostage" named Gillian who ditches her boyfriend because he bought condoms with SpongeBob on them.

Louis Piejack is a Grade A dirtbag who gropes Honey at work, gets a crab mallet in the testicles for his efforts, and is later horribly disfigured by a cage full of jumbo stone crabs and a distracted surgeon.

In the 10,000 islands off Florida's Gulf coast, most of these people end up on the same tiny spit of land (narrowly missing the one with a tiny but relatively harmless cult which seems to be focused on getting the gas-station-attendant-leader laid). For the most part, it's hysterical. For a small part, it's terrifying. Almost nobody escapes the experience unchanged, and in the end it comes down to what people are willing to do for those they really care about.

It's not going to change the world (much as Honey would like to), but it's a solid read when you don't feel like thinking, and plenty entertaining along the way.

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posted by reyn at 11:12 AM


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