Unfortunately, Roys first acquaintance in Florida is Dana Matherson, a well-known bully. Then again, if Dana hadnt been sinking his thumbs into Roys temples and mashing his face against the school-bus window, Roy might never have spotted the running boy. And the running boy is intriguing: he was running away from the school bus, carried no books, and — heres the odd part — wore no shoes. Sensing a mystery, Roy sets himself on the boys trail. The chase introduces him to potty-trained alligatorons. While the pulp of yesteryear seems forever chiseled in an almost quaint black and white world, Hiaasens books vibrate with vivid color. They are veritable playgrounds for wild characters that flout clichés: a roadkill-eating ex-governor, a bouncer/assassin who takes care of business with a Weed Wacker, a failed alligator wrestler named Sammy Tigertail. Furthermore, Hiaasen infuses his absurdist stories with a powerful dose of social and political awareness, focusing on his home turf of South Florida with an unflinching keenness. Hiaasen was born and raised in South Florida. During the 1970s, he got his start as a writer working for Cocoa Today as a public interest columnist. However, it was his gig as an investigative reporter for The Miami Herald that provided him with the fundamentals necessary for a career in fiction. Id always wanted to write books ever since I was a kid, Hiaasen told Barnes & Noble.com. To me, the newspaper business was a way to learn about life and how things worked in the real world and how people spoke. You learn all the skills — you learn to listen, you learn to take notes — everything you use later as a novelist was valuable training in the newspaper world. But I always wanted to write novels. Hiaasen made the transition from journalism to fiction in 1981 with the help of fellow reporter Bill Montalbano. Hiaasen and Montalbano drew upon all they had learned while covering the Miami beat in their debut novel Powder Burn, a sharp thriller about the legendary Miami cocaine trade, which the New York Times declared an expertly plotted novel. The team followed up their debut with two more collaborative works before Hiaasen ventured out on his own with Tourist Season, an offbeat murder mystery that showcased the authors idiosyncratic sense of humor. From then on, Hiaasens sensibility has grown only more comically absurd and more socially pointed, with a particular emphasis on the environmental exploitation of his beloved home state. In addition to his irreverent and howlingly funny thrillers (Double Whammy, Sick Puppy, Nature Girl, etc), he has released collections of his newspaper columns (Kick Ass, Paradise Screwed) and penned childrens books (Hoot, Flush). With his unique blend of comedy and righteousness (I cant be funny without being angry.), the writer continues to view hallowed Florida institutions — from tourism to real estate development — with a decidedly jaundiced eye. As Kirkus Reviews has wryly observed, Hiassen depicts ...the Sunshine State as the weirdest place this side of Oz.
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Perhaps in keeping with his South Floridian mindset, Hiaasen keeps snakes as housepets. He says on his web site, Theyre clean and quiet. You give them rodents and they give you pure, unconditional indifference. Hiaasen is also a songwriter: Hes co-written two songs, Seminole Bingo and Rottweiler Blues, with Warren Zevon for the album Mutineer. In turn, Zevon recorded a song based on the lyrics Hiaasen had written for a dead rock star character in Basket Case. In Hiaasens novel Nature Girl, he gets the opportunity to deal with a long-held fantasy. Id always fantasized about tracking down one of these telemarketing creeps and turning the tables — phoning his house every night at dinner, the way they hassle everybody else, he explains on his web site. In the novel, my heroine takes it a whole step farther. She actually tricks the guy into signing up for a bogus ‘ecotour in Florida, and then proceeds to teach him some manners. Or tries.