Book Review: Sick Puppy

This is the second book of Hiaasen’s that I’ve read, the first being Basket Case. Hiaasen’s uncanny satirical insight carries his novels, and Sick Puppy had me laughing out loud on almost every page.

There are no good guys here. The protagonist, Twilly Spree, is a soft-core eco-terrorist, maintaining himself on a trust-fund and a simmering hatred of all things litter. Eventually, Spree happens upon one Palmer Stoat, big-deal broker and unabashed trash-chucker extraordinaire. Spree eventually follows Stoat to Stoat’s home and kidnaps Stoat’s Black Lab, holding him hostage until Stoat agrees to back out on a land development deal that’s killed off all the poor toads on the island.

Eventually, Stoat’s wife, never too enthralled with her shallow husband to begin with, falls for Twilly Spree, and off they go.

The comedy of this book cannot be overstated. Hiaasen sees people’s dumb habits, picks up on the everyday quirks and magnifies them to stupendous effect. There’s a land developer with a lustful passion for Barbie Dolls. Another developer with a deep hatred for nature, in particular squirrels; the resentment having taken root in an attack on his scrotum by an angry chipmunk. And of course how could we do without prostitutes that only service Republicans and vicious hit-men that collect 911 recordings of people’s dying breaths?

While comedy can carry one through boring stories and Hiaasen’s command of language and human psychology is undeniable, his politics shine through a little too brightly for me. The book began to seem like propaganda. He takes his shots at Ronald Reagan, Republicans, cigar smokers (I assume it’s an oblique swipe at Rush Limbaugh), and the police. He seems to justify eco-terror at times too. While it’s best not to read too much into a novelist’s personality by the books that he writes, since Hiassen’s a journalist in Florida, I’m assuming that he’s depicting many of his own views on the environment.

Also, since the book is very satirical, I found myself not caring who lived or died and also not caring if the characters got what they wanted; I was reading for the next joke.

My final complaint: the book is too long; 513 pages. Really, it should have been about 300.

I think that others may enjoy this book more than I, since my political views are at odds with Hiaasen’s. He is a great writer, I cannot deny that. However, if I’m going to read this many pages, I need a plot that serves a bit of tension; I never experienced any with this book.

3 1/2 out of five stars.

Next Week: Niall Ferguson’s, Colossus.


1 Response to “Book Review: Sick Puppy”

  1. 1 Al Gore
    August 30, 2007 at 11:55 pm

    You know who would like that book? Satan. That’s who.

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