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Big Trouble [Paperback]

Dave Barry
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (275 customer reviews)
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Book Description

July 13 2010
Dave Barry makes his fiction debut with a ferociously funny novel of love and mayhem in south Florida.

In his career, Dave Barry has done just about everything--written bestselling nonfiction, won a Pulitzer Prize, seen his life turned into a television series. And now, at last, he has joined the long list of literary figures from Jane Austen to Tolstoy who have made the transition from humor columnist to novelist...and done it with a style and inventiveness that establishes that, yes, he is very good at that, too.

In the city of Coconut Grove, Florida, these things happen: A struggling adman named Eliot Arnold drives home from a meeting with the Client From Hell. His teenage son, Matt, fills a Squirtmaster 9000 for his turn at a high school game called Killer. Matt's intended victim, Jenny Herk, sits down in front of the TV with her mom for what she hopes will be a peaceful evening for once. Jenny's alcoholic and secretly embezzling stepfather, Arthur, emerges from the maid's room, angry at being rebuffed. Henry and Leonard, two hit men from New Jersey, pull up to the Herks' house for a real game of Killer, Arthur's embezzlement apparently not having been quite so secret to his employers after all. And a homeless man named Puggy settles down for the night in a treehouse just inside the Herks' yard.

In a few minutes, a chain of events that will change the lives of each and every one of them will begin, and will leave some of them wiser, some of them deader, and some of them definitely looking for a new line of work. With a wicked wit, razor-sharp observations, rich characters, and a plot with more twists than the Inland Waterway, Dave Barry makes his debut a complete and utter triumph.

"The funniest book I've read in fifty years."--Elmore Leonard

"Despite wealth, fame and a tendency to undermedicate himself, Dave Barry remains one of the funniest writers alive. Big Trouble is outrageously warped, cheerfully depraved--and harrowingly close to true life in Florida. This book will do for our tourism industry what Dennis Rodman did for bridal wear."--Carl Hiaasen
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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From Amazon

Dave Barry, the only newsman to win a Pulitzer for exemplary use of words like booger, will please humor and crime-fiction fans alike with this racy debut novel. The scene is Miami. In ritzy Coconut Grove, the teen son of Eliot, a newsman turned adman, sneaks up to spritz a cute girl with a Squirtmaster 9000 to win a high school game called Killer. Meanwhile, two hit men sneak up to kill the girl's abusive stepdad, Arthur. Arthur cheated his bosses at corrupt Penultimate, Inc., which equipped a Florida jail with automatic garage-opener gates that accidentally freed prisoners in a lightning storm.

Farcical confusion ensues, witnessed by a saintly bum named Puggy, camped in a tree in Arthur's yard. Puggy works at the Jolly Jackal Bar & Grill, which has no grill and actually sells guns and bombs to an offshoot of the Crips and Bloods called the Cruds, and to Penultimate (which plans to conquer Cuba). But when dim thugs Eddie and Snake rob the Jolly Jackal and Arthur tells them it's a Russian mob front selling bombs, the proprietor snorts, "Bombs, pfft! No bombs! Is bar."

Can Snake and Eddie spirit a suitcase nuke through Miami, "where most motorists obeyed the traffic and customs of their individual countries of origin"? Can Eliot and cop Monica Rodriguez save the day? And how do the 300-pound hallucinogenic Enemy Toad, the 13-foot-long python Daphne, highway goats, and the Denture Adventure seniors' theme park fit in? Everything fits perfectly, including a few dark passages new to Barry's work. But one warning: if you read this book while drinking milk, at some point it will spurt out of your nostrils. --Tim Appelo --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In writing a comic thriller set in South Florida, the Pulitzer-winning Miami Herald columnist and author of 20 books of satirical nonfiction (most recently, Dave Barry Turns 50) risks the inevitable comparison to Carl Hiaasen. The good news is that he acquits himself well in this slapstick caper. Barry's cast of familiar South Florida oddballs populate what might best be described as a Garry Trudeau (Doonesbury) sendup of the hard-boiled crime novels of Elmore Leonard. Featuring a homeless drifter who sleeps in a tree and tends bar for two illegal arms-dealing Russian hoods, a pair of two-bit losers who hustle tourists at parking meters, an ex-journalist (now a failing ad-man), a pretty illegal alien, a boozy embezzler and his ill-used wife and daughter, a teen with a water pistol playing a game of Killer, a retarded dog, a psychedelic South American toad, two klutzy New Jersey hit men and a virtual army of local and Federal law enforcement, the novel's quirky players bounce off each other like popcorn in a microwave, chasing after a mysterious suitcase containing a nuclear bomb in an unlikely race against certain death. The zany plot has more twists than the I-95 Miami airport interchange and more pratfalls than a Three Stooges comedy. Despite an occasional stiffness and tendency to strain for one-liners, the narrative moves at a breezy pace. Barry is indisputably one of the funniest humorists writing today, and his fiction debut will not disappoint a legion of fans. Agent, Al Hart. 150,000 first printing; $150,000 ad/promo; Literary Guild featured alternate; 12-city author tour. (Sept.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay, but what I hoped from Dave July 13 2004
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Background: grew up in South Florida reading and loving Dave in the Miami Herald but I live many states away now. I found out after reading the book that it was made into a movie starring Tim Allen. I'm sort of a movie buff but still had never heard of the movie and to date I've never seen it.
Pretty good book, but not what I had hoped from Dave Barry. I guess this was his first foray into a full novel. The frog is the best part and it is pretty much what one would expect from a goofy, South Florida tale. It has lots of funny moments, but I really don't know if non-Dave Barry fans could enjoy it because the end story leaves alot to be desired.
Nonetheless, if you get if for cheap, it's a quick read and it's funny.
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4.0 out of 5 stars warning: don't drink while reading June 5 2004
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
...or you'll run the risk of injury and embarrassment if you're in public. Yes, this book has some bad words and sexual situations - it's a novel not a column run in a family-friendly newspaper. And its intended audience is adults' whose books occasionally have bad words and sexual situations - regardless how many young people enjoy Dave's columns. Otherwise it would be a different section of the bookstore.
Anyway, it's very funny. No one can or should be able to make the reader howl on every single page, but "Big Trouble" does a fine job of entertaining. If you've seen the movie (worth checking out) it's very loyal to the book: same characters and most of the funniest situations are kept in.
Plot: Roughly eight to 12 characters wind up interacting in a kind of convoluted manner to describe well here - a pair of teens playing "Killer" with a water pistol wind up inadvertenly messing up a hit man's plan to kill the dad of one of their classmates - whose maid winds up falling in love with the narrator - a homeless man called Puggy. Meanwhile the target of the hitman winds up facedown in a bowl of dog chow squirted by a poisonous toad having hallucinations that involve Martha Stewart. Eventually, the dad of one of the teens winds up hijacking a plane - which finally wins his son's respect. A bomb which passes with impunity through an airport check is finally diffused and - well, why not read the rest? I promise it's funnier than just a brief description here can make it.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing. May 19 2004
Format:Hardcover
May I first say that I am a fan of Barry's? I love his columns and his comedy books. I didn't like this in the least.
It reaks of rookieness. The characters are so flat and predictable that you will not be able to attach to them. The plot is empty and very, very boring.
And, worst of all, he seems to try and make up for it with distasteful humor. I'm no prude, but this is pretty vulgar stuff, and the payoff in humour is lacking.
Barry is a great columnist, but his fiction is bottom of the barrell, please don't bother.
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4.0 out of 5 stars a great humor/crime novel!!! May 9 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I found Dave Barry's novel, Big Trouble, a very entertaining story down to the last page. The book is filled with action and witty humor throughout. The book is a light-hearted crime novel - a storyline of a robbery, with comic relief where it is needed.

Dave Barry creates a wall of characters in the story, which makes the book read a little faster, as he is jumping from character through character throughout the book. The only problem with this is that although the large amount of people in the story adds to the plot's depth, it is easy to get lost between the character's names and what's happening to whom.

Even with this mild flaw, though, the story still reads well and the plot flows brilliantly. Dave Barry takes completely different characters who have nothing to do with each other and then pulls them together through a series of events. At first, no plot seemed evident to me, but as you read on, everything begins to fit in, and then the adventure starts!

The story is a very original one involving a nuclear bomb, a game called killer, a large toad, a homeless man, a bar that's purpose is not to sell drinks, and two hitmen, two police officers, two high schoolers, two FBI agents, and two "veterans". It seems like it would be impossible to write a book incorporating such a wide variety of ideas and thoughts and yet still keeping it an interesting story, but somehow, Dave Barry manages to pull it off.

I find this story very hard to describe in a few short sentences, as there is just SO much that goes on in it. It takes place in Miami, where a victim of attempted murder tries to buy a bomb to get the attention of the feds in some crazy plan of his.
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4.0 out of 5 stars First attempt at fiction went pretty darn well! Dec 23 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Dave Barry has done a wonderful job on his first fiction novel. I found myself laughing out loud at parts. In a style reminiscent of Carl Hiassen, Barry introduces a cast of unforgettable characters and a hillarous commentary on society and especially South Florida.
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4.0 out of 5 stars one word - Hilarious Dec 4 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Fasten your seatbelts, cause Dave Barry is taking you for a bumpy ride through the streets of Miami! Watch out for New Jersey mobsters, FBI agents, teenagers with squirt guns, and Russians selling nuclear weapons. Oh yes, and don't run your car into that goat crossing the street, or that dog that looks like Elizabeth Dole. This is a very enjoyable and fast read.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The trouble is you'll miss a good book if you don't buy this
Set in Miami, Florida mostly in the suburb of Coconut Grove this book is a simple quick tale of different unrelated interesting characters whose paths cross at one time or another. Read more
Published on Nov. 17 2003 by James N Simpson
2.0 out of 5 stars Big Trouble is Big Disappointment
I purchased this book with high expectations. Every column Dave Barry has ever written has cracked me up and this book was made into a movie, so it had to be funny, right? Wrong. Read more
Published on Nov. 6 2003 by D. Souba
5.0 out of 5 stars A charming adventure definitely worth the laugh.
I was fortunate enough to find this amoungst a pile of bargain books somewhere. I read it almost a year and a half before the movie came out a few years ago. Read more
Published on July 17 2003 by Matthew McCann
5.0 out of 5 stars Laugh-out-loud funny
Dave Barry is already notorious for winning a Pulitzer Prize for using words such as "booger" in his syndicated column. Read more
Published on April 28 2003
2.0 out of 5 stars Can't even add the parts together
Some books are more than the sum of their parts. These would be literature, books that resonate in the head long after they are put down, books full of people and ideas and... Read more
Published on April 23 2003 by J. C Clark
4.0 out of 5 stars Pure Fun
Zaney book written by Barry. So many character interacting in unreal situations that this book is just fun. Read more
Published on April 17 2003 by chicoer2003
5.0 out of 5 stars One word: WACKY
If I had to choose one word to sum up this book, it would be WACKY.
This book is GREAT!I seldom can go through a book with a smile on the whole time, this book is just... Read more
Published on April 14 2003
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