Sunday, 8 February 2015

Book Review: An Introduction to Carl Hiaasen

Carl Hiaasen is one funny cat. Some people have cast comparisons to the late Elmore Leonard, but I believe the difference between the two bridges too far a gap to compare. Hiaasen isn’t a crime writer. Sure, crimes throughout his works evolve, but I see Hiaasen more as a satirical social commentator than a writer who envisages penning a crime novel.
His streams of social consciousness are second to none. The way in which he scrutinizers society holds no bounds. It’s not reactionary. It’s clever. It’s not heavy handed. It’s calculated. During his first novel, Tourist Season, the way he picks off his fellow American when describing expeditions abroad in the voice of psychopath, Skip Wiley, is pure genius. His comic tones are first class. He’s a fun writer. Just like Christopher Moore. Just like Tom Robbins. In fact, his comic satire could be likened to the latter, if anyone.

I’ve only read two of Hiaasen’s books; Tourist Season and Sick Puppy. The former has all the traits of a first novel: raw, poignant and a culmination of an expanded idea. It’s good. Sick Puppy is on another level, though. His ability to create characters seems to have flourished from Tourist Season to Sick Puppy. No surprises there, considering the length of time between the two novels.
An array of characters hosts the pages that greet the reader during Sick Puppy. Quite a few more than Tourist Season, but that’s to be expected, given his evolution as a writer over time, which naturally leads to greater creative ambitions. Sure, Sick Puppy can be hard to follow at times and after my first two experiences with Hiaasen, he does jump around a bit which at times can feel like you've got the bends, but that’s okay. His ability to create a chaos of the farcical variety overrides any slight flaws to set a scene. I can’t wait to delve into the rest of his works.

By Simon K.