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Book Reviews

Milt Gross Book Review: "Star Island" by Carl Hiaasen
By Milton M. Gross
May 24, 2015 - 6:15:14 AM

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Star Island was typical of Carl Hiaasen's novel's, humorous and crass in spots. But in this book, I found too many crass -- sexually implicit or degrading -- events for my ancient reading blood. Milt Gross photo.
As usual, Carl Hiaasen's writing in Star Island was funny, kind of dramatic, and apparently poking fun at some of what happens in Florida, where Hiaasen lives and writes.

I've been enjoying Hiaasen's books for years, and this one was no exception. Except for the story's becoming too complicated and some humor I found a bit below the good humor belt.

Just make me chuckle, Carl, don't complicate things or drag humor down too far into the gutter.

The story is about a couple of young women, one a singer who can't sing but who does lipsync and the other who looks like the singer and who covers for her at events, where the trainers want the public to think they are seeing the singer. There is also Skink, who at one time was the governor of Florida but now lives in a campsite deep in the woods, wears ragged clothes, has one eye, and, in short, is strange. (Who shows up in several of Hiaasen's Florida novels.) Chemo was hired as a bodyguard. He has one arm, the other replaced by an electric machine like a weedwhacker that is powered by batteries. This man touches on cruelty. The meetings of Skink, who appeared in every Hiaasen book I've read, and Chemo were interesting. And also there are Cherry Pye's (the non-singing singer) parents, her handlers.

The plot becomes involved, but it seems to me most of it is to provide opportunities for the weird things that happen only in Carl Hiaasen's books.

I've enjoyed Hiaasen's books more for the weird happenings than for the story plots.

Wikipedia tells us, "Hiaasen was born in 1953 and raised in Fort Lauderdale, FL. He was the first of four children, the son of a lawyer, Kermit Odell, and a teacher, Patricia. He has Norwegian ancestry. He started writing at age six when his father got him a typewriter. After graduating from high school in 1970, he entered Emory University, where he contributed satirical humor columns to the student-run newspaper The Emory Wheel. In 1972, he transferred to the University of Florida, where he wrote for The Independent Florida Alligator. Hiaasen graduated in 1974 with a degree in journalism.

"He was a reporter for Cocoa Today (Cocoa, Florida) for two years, beginning in 1974, and then was hired by the Miami Herald in 1976, where he still works.

"After becoming an investigative reporter, Hiaasen began to write novels. His first three were co-written by fellow journalist Montalbano: Powder Burn (1981), Trap Line (1982), and A Death in China (1986). Hiaasen's first venture into writing for children was the 2002 novel Hoot, which was named a Newbery Medal honor book and was adapted as a 2006 film of the same name (starring Logan Lerman). His subsequent children's novel were Flush; Scat, and, most recently, Chomp. All of his young-adult novels have environmental themes. They also have his characteristic unique characters and some theme of adventure.

"Hiaasen is also noted as the person who discovered and helped bring the young adult fantasy novel Eragon to the public. The book, written by Christopher Paolin, was self-published and self-promoted by tour throughout the United States without much attention until it came to Hiaasen's notice in 2002. Hiaasen immediately recommended the novel to publishing house Alfred A. Knopf, with which Hiaasen worked. The novel went on to become an astounding success, marking the start of a book series that sold over 30 million copies worldwide."

That serious writer penned all these almost silly books, 21 other novels, two books of short stories, and five non-fiction books, according to Wikipedia.

Star Island was published in 2011 by Grand Central Puiblishing, Hachette Book Group, New York, NY with a price in the U.S. of $14.99. Amazon.com lists is at several prices, $3.22 for a new or used hardcover, $8 for a paperback, one cent used and new, or Kindle for $7.60.

It was typically Hiaasen amusing and a bit crude, a little confusing, but overall a good book.

Pick up any of Hiaasen's books for a good, humorous read.


Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at lesstraveledway@roadrunner.com.

Milton M. Gross Copyright 2014


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