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Saturday Art: Influential Authors: Carl Hiaasen

The boy with Carl Hiaasen

The boy with Carl Hiaasen

Please Note: When I began this series, it was to cover a lot of authors whom I have found personally influential, even though this may only be because I enjoyed the stories they have told in their books or short stories. I’m just fortunate enough and well read enough that many of the authors I have personally enjoyed have also been influential on a macro scale as well as micro. rrt

As so frequently happens, I’m not sure which of Carl Hiaasen’s books I first read. I do think I had read some of his columns first though before reading his novels. From his bio:

Carl Hiaasen was born and raised in Florida, where he still lives with his family. After graduating from the University of Florida, he began writing for the Miami Herald. As a journalist and author, Carl has spend most of his life advocating the protection of the Florida Everglades. He and his family still live southern Florida.

Over a year ago I covered the writer John D. MacDonald. One of the hallmarks of MacDonald was his basic contempt for Florida land developers, sugar industry, and politicians. Where MacDonald, mainly through his character Travis McGee (but other characters as well), covered things in a dark noirish fashion, Hiaasen conveys much the same contempt for the developers, sugar, and politicians as MacDonald but does so using outlandish humor and caricatures. On a Facebook fan page for Travis McGee, I once expressed my opinion that I see Hiassen as the heir to MacDonald. I am a definite minority with this view but I do see parallels between MacDonald’s perspective and that of Hiaasen as well as parallels between Travis McGee and Hiaasen’s recurring character Clinton Tyree (aka “Skink”).

Hiaasen has a mix of books from his regular fiction, young adult fiction, non-fiction from compilations of his columns to some investigative work, and some mysteries in collaboration with a fellow reporter (his first three novels in fact).

His first solo novel was titled Tourist Season first published in 1986. I would guess his best known book is probably Strip Tease primarily because it was the basis for the movie Striptease starring Demi Moore and Burt Reynolds. Having read the book and seen the movie, I am not at all surprised that the movie was as bad as it was since Hiaasen’s humor does not lend itself well to the screen.

Hiaasen’s only other film writing credit is for Hoot which is based on his award winning first young adult novel of the same name. Hiaasen and Jimmy Buffett both had roles in this film.

Hiaasen’s web page does report that as of December 11, 2013, Spike TV has a new series under development with Rob Reiner based on the book Basket Case.

Hiaasen, as part of his reporting career at the Miami Herald, worked as an investigative reporter. One of his non-fiction books continues that aspect of his career. Team Rodent description from the wiki:

Team Rodent is a non-fiction book written by Carl Hiaasen about the Walt Disney Company and its stance towards the outside world. The book’s primary focus is on non-film related Disney enterprises such as Disney World and their effects on the environment and local culture.

Hiaasen uses humor in his fiction to cover dark topics and absurd, often preposterous situations. Humor can sometimes help to change the world.

Picture from Marcus Kwan licensed under Creative Commons

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Small town Kentucky country boy lived all over the country. Currently in Ruskin, FL