aPriL eVoLvEs's Reviews > Tourist Season

Tourist Season by Carl Hiaasen
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's review
Jul 12, 13

bookshelves: mysteries-suspense-thrillers, pulp-junk-i-adore
Read in September, 2011

I always am a little disconcerted by Carl Hiaasen books because he confounds me. I never know where he is going with his story. The tone of his books in particular leave me wondering for the first 50 or so pages: is this supposed to be funny? A satire? A detective genre? Serious and sad? A thriller? A quick beach read? Tourist Season struck me the same as other books by CH. Bad things happen to innocent people as well as to characters who are obviously to be booed whenever they appear.

Since most of the folks who appear in the author's novels are true-to-life oddballs and genuine psychopathic monsters I actually feel the books have some basis in reality. So many street people and criminals are REALLY as bizarre as the characters shown in this book and in most of the other books this author has written. Truly. Although so many idiosyncratic people in one story is unusual accept for satires and comedies. But the events, in this case caused by a group of "terrorists" who for a variety of reasons-repulsed by environment degradation, wanting to free Cuba, hating white people-team up to murder tourists and create fear so Florida can be restored to a natural, barely inhabited state when everyone moves away because of the murders, are so horrifically described that I can't feel the funny or satire. It includes the usual boilerplate motives behind typical business promotions and community holiday events, as in a beach read. People, good and bad, are fleshed out pretty much realistically, if exaggerated, mostly for comic effects and quick boilerplate identifications, but yet some of them are truly literary novel tragic.

My problem is, as is the same as some of the other CH novels I've read, with the tone. It's satiric, then it's a fun, then it's plain horrific and sad, then it's a character study. Sometimes it's a serious book for awhile. It's definitely entertaining for the most part. But I can't tell if it's all for fun, or if the author actually cares about something. There is a lack of focus sometimes to the plot, unusual for a genre or a beach read, and so many of the characters also appear to lack intellectual and emotional focus, which is on purpose, I think, because that's how people are in real life. At the same time the action is revealing character moral attitudes more like a literary novel.

There is no question CH finds even the bad guys reasonable in their obscene activities or madness on some level, even while showing they are obviously crazy or damaging. By the end, things conclude, but not with a point or a meaningful ending implicitly or explicitly spelled out. Things happen, helter skelter, and then it's the last page, more like a True Crime non-fiction. Watching the fictional oddballs behave so weird in the book ( yet at the same time I know recognizable real counterparts can be found in the news on CNN) seems to be the point. If Anne Rule was mashed up with Southern Gothic mixed with Tosh.O you get a CH novel. Is it good? I THINK so. I always feel like this when I finish a Carl Hiaasen book.
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message 1: by Gary (last edited Jul 12, 2013 06:53PM) (new)

Gary  the Bookworm I've read a few of his books. This one stood out for me because of the seriousness of its subject. Your review really captures it.

message 2: by Linda (new)

Linda Hi April,
I've only read one of his, but you've put your finger on it! That's exactly how I felt about the one I read ("Lucky You", or something of that sort)

aPriL eVoLvEs I read in an article recently that there used to be an increase in Florida tourism whenever a new Hiaasen novel came out in previous decades. Some tourists that were interviewed were hoping to see Florida locals similar to the ones mentioned in Hiaasen's books.

The article was about how travel business professionals actually advertise disaster tours today (imminent volcano eruptions, hurricane storm experiences, helicopter flood flyovers, etc.). It mentioned Carl Hiaasen in a brief discussion of past influences on tourism.

: D

message 4: by Linda (new)

Linda Wow, interesting bit!
The disaster part, I could never understand. I've never understood the rubber-neckers who slow down traffic after an accident--I don't want to witness others' pain, and I remember my father saying that the worst part of his job was washing the accidents off the road later.
As for the local characters, I could see it...after all, since it's retirement capital, it draws on people from all socioeconomic classes and all parts of the country-so, what a melange! They must really get all types.
My old neighbour, for example, goes often to Key West with her boyfriend. Something they like about it. And she always sends me pictures of this guy and his cat circus! I'm sure he's on the net, if you want to check him out. He's got a German name, Gunther, or something like that.
Wonder what the impact of this novel was, then...?
And wonder if other places have gone through something similar. Did Alaska experience a surge with "Northern Exposure"? Portland's going thru it now, right?

aPriL eVoLvEs When Northern Exposure was on TV, it's outdoor scenes were actually filmed in Roslyn, Washington. It became inundated with tourists! Same with Twin Peaks - filmed around Preston, North Bend, Snoqualmie Falls. Right now it's Twilight movie location Kalama, Washington which has the full tourist buses. When Midnight in the Garden of Eden was published, Savannah, Georgia became a tourist destination and people were entertained by cooperating real folk mentioned in the non-fiction book. Of course, everyone loves Portlandia! Me too. At least Portlandia tourism isn't about death and murdered victim gawking! Not that I'm above gawking, I'm afraid. I'll stare at blood stains and car wrecks too. I feel embarrassed about it, though. Does that count in the positive column? : )

message 6: by Linda (new)

Linda Ha ha, April, I guess it counts in the positive column...:) My father was a fireman, so I took all of that to heart, sort of learned from someone else's lessons, if you will. And some he didn't learn (he was capable of smoking in bed, for example, especially after he became ill--something I refused to do when I smoked).
Savannah makes total sense--I think it's known for its architecture and statues, etc, much like Charleston SC. Of course, your mentioning the "Twilight" phenomenon makes sense, too....I can imagine busloads going anywhere remotely connected to the film the actors, etc. Nothing like teen attention...
But I feel, as you do, that Florida must be somewhat like Savannah in its local characters, because some of this stuff, you just can't make up. He's got some real doozies!

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