Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Benefits of Rage

"Sick Puppy” by Carl Hiaasen, 1999

Carl Hiaasen is a Florida genre writer who used to be a newspaperman.  His main interest is the environment of Florida, and poking fun at the rich, white bastards who are ruining that state’s beautiful nature in the pursuit of lucre.  I guess writing is the revenge of the powerless because even though this book was written in 1999, Florida keeps on being bulldozed under. 

This is funny shit.  It follows the activities of a strangely rich, enraged young environmentalist, Twilly Spree, who trails deadbeats that throw garbage out of their SUVs onto the highways, or shoot endangered animals, or who obliviously dump in protected areas.  He will kill if necessary.  He is joined by a former governor, nicknamed “Skink,” who walked out of the governor’s mansion after 2 years when he realized only criminals could last a full term.  Skink became an older version of Twilly, choosing to live in the swamps of Key Largo in an abandoned car body, living on fish and road kill.  They team up to defeat a real estate project which would destroy a still undeveloped barrier island and its wildlife, named “Toad,” somewhere north of Tampa on the Gulf. 

Real estate is the name of the game in most of Florida – centered around the pristine beaches, estuaries, barrier islands, salt-water marshes and shoreline of this massive peninsula.  Water is everywhere, and real estate developers are hoping there is a sucker who will pay large bucks to put his house right on the ocean, or near it, global warming be damned – or un-dammed.  Twilly and Skink are pissed, mad, outraged and dangerous.  Exactly what the majority of the U.S. population is not.  Do sheep read of electric rebellions?  Evidently they must because Hiaasen sells lots of books.   

This book is part of a whole series dedicated to a Florida full of eccentric characters, ‘old’ Florida values and vicious humor.  In it, some of the female characters, like the lobbyist’s wife and the governor’s chief of staff, come across as repulsed by the activities of their men.   On the other hand, do you hate lobbyists?  Real estate developers?  Stupid cops?  Slimy politicians descended from car dealers?  Bimbos?  Hired guns?  Republicans?  People who run ‘wild game’ shooting parks?  People that hate nature or who have big game heads mounted in their dens?  Then you will love reading this one. They all get their comeuppance – and not gently.  Several end up rotting in the mud or trampled underfoot. 

Has Hiaasen inspired any real ‘lone wolves?’  I guess you’ll have to check the Florida papers.  What is interesting is how many writers pick some of the same targets as leftists do.  Perhaps ‘something’ in the real world is lining up in the minds of many people. 

(Other books about Florida reviewed below - "Back to Blood" by Tom Wolfe and "Blockaders, Refugees and Contrabands," on the Civil War in Florida, reviewed below.) 

And I bought it at Forgotten Coast Books in Apalachicola, Florida, on the ‘old’ Florida Panhandle.
Red Frog
December 8, 2013

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