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Kick Ass: Selected Columns of Carl Hiaasen Hardcover – Dec 31 1999
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From Kirkus Reviews
A public service to his many fans, this compendium of Miami Herald columns by best-selling novelist Carl Hiaasen (Lucky You, 1997, etc.) reveals an angry, alert civic muckraker in the pugilistic vein of Mencken or Royko. Though best known for his ribald crime fiction, with its meticulous universe of South Florida idiocy and venal conspiracy, Hiaasen cut his teeth as an investigative reporter, and this spirit is strong in both his chosen subjects and his wry attention to unforgiving evidentiary detail. As editor Stevenson notes, the collections thrust, which she constructed by sifting through Hiaasens 1300-plus columns, was to present his advocacy of realistic growth and decent government in Florida. Along the way Hiaasen stops to gut innumerable big fishcrooked politicians, rogue cops, insensate tourists, swollen developerswithin a rough chronology reaching back to the cocaine-crazed Reagan '80s. Although Hiaasen is a truly funny writer, a stern moral compass lies beneath his slapstick. His quixotic outrage regarding the despoliation of his home state (cf. the columnist/terrorist of his Tourist Season, 1986) is as unforgiving as an Uzi, as authentic as a Waffle House breakfast. Hiaasens zestful attacks on Miamis many embarrassing or indicted leaders end up addressing the threats posed, for instance, by the crash overpopulation of Florida, epitomized by the havoc wreaked by Hurricane Andrew upon shoddy developments, a dire issue that pro-business boosters (e.g., The Mouse) labor to minimize. But even the loopier pieces (tame dachshund-eating alligators, Geraldo Riveras faked drug raids) are informed by Hiaasens unforgiving focus upon the social rot beneath the zany facade. Such columns, like his fiction, reveal Hiaasen as a crystalline, pitiless seer of human weakness in much the same vein as his Floridian forbears, Charles Willeford and Harry Crews. Deeply satisfying, both for what it reveals of the serious priorities of a supposedly light novelist and for the outrageous epic of Florida profiteering and entropy within. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
...this collection of lively and well-reported pieces... illuminated by all the wit and keen descriptive powers of his fiction. -- Salon.com
Carl Hiaasen is one of America's finest novelists. -- Pete Hamill --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Unfortunately, the web was just in its infancy, and access to Hiaasen's newspaper writing was apparently one of the few exclusive benefits of living in South Florida. KICK ASS turns out to be just the sort of collection that I had been craving for many years.
KICK ASS does not disappoint. It begins with a nifty introduction that provides a smattering of biographical information on Hiaasen, as well as a context for the subjects and tone of his columns. Hiaasen clearly resides in a longstanding tradition of muckraking American journalism, and I mean that in the best possible way.
This is no mere sampling of his work -- there are more than 200 columns here, organized by topic, and just about every one of them meets the mandate stated in the title of the collection. Hiaasen has a passion for the environment, consumer protection, crime control, and good government. His portrait of a Florida reeling after the flood of growth and development of the last three decades is even starker than the one in his novels. Speaking of the novels, it is also fun to see where he "lifts" some of his ideas for the things that happen in his books. The overamorous dolphin of NATIVE TONGUE appears in KICK ASS as well.Read more ›
Like Molly Ivens, who can speak the truth and make us laugh about things that are probably worthy of tears, Hiaasen manages to ease the pain of much that he reveals in the columns by recasting it as comedy. He makes us laugh first, and then leaves us with troubled thoughts. Makes me wish he wrote for the Washington Post. The citizens of D.C. could use a good laugh at much that goes on. We just don't have a Carl Hiaasen here to do it justice.
Reading this book won't make one want to move to Miami, but it will make one want to read more Hiaasen. Always a pleasure.
Quite a bit actually. You see Miami seems to be a very strange place, and Mr. Hiaasen uses his formidable talent to poke fun at the poor city's innumerable peccadilloes. He considers Corruption in Politics to be one of the town's main industries, and gives us a lot of drug smuggling; indifference to the environment; tourist murders; locking up clowns; swimming in waters contaminated with fecal matter. Laughing at Miami's problems might even help us temporarily forget similar problems in our own hometown.
As they often say, truth is stranger than fiction. And often funnier, I might add. It's good Carl Hiaasen...and you really get your money's worth. It's no slim tome of essays; there are over 200 columns reprinted here giving us 450 pages of chuckles.
There's a lot more reasons for buying this book than you'd expect.
If you appreciate Hiaasen's "fiction," you'll love to read about the fountain of avarice and corruption from which it came.
If you are at all interested in the reality of politics and society in this country, this book will give you an eyeful.
And if you do happen to be a Florida citizen--or even a Florida visitor--you'll be well-served to get a synopsis of South Florida history as witnessed by Carl Hiaasen in the 15 years (and counting) that he's served as one of the Herald's most acerbic, witty, and controversial voices.
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