I’ve never read much Carl Hiaasen—just Team Rodent, his book about “how Disney devours the world”—but his name kept popping up this summer. So I took his new book, Star Island, to the beach, and it proved to be a wickedly fun (and funny) read, despite a seemingly limp premise.
Cherry Pye—a 22-year-old singer with a fondness for tabloid-titillating exploits that would make Lindsay blush—is on the verge of self-inflicted collapse. She’s enabled by morally bankrupt parents and music biz flunkies and stalked by paparazzo Bang Abbott, who’s scheming for more than a sidewalk snapshot.
At this point, Hiaasen practically lost me because I’m not inclined to read 350 pages—satire, or otherwise—about stereotypical losers in the fast lanes (and ditches) of South Beach.
But Hiaasen writes with manic glee and a keen sense of purpose that gathers momentum as it tumbles along. And it’s all infused with biting social commentary and an indictment of a celebrity-obsessed culture that makes his outrageous characters all too real and plausible. His delightfully twisted plot includes the singer’s “double” being mistakenly kidnapped by the paparazzo, a bodyguard with a penchant for wielding a prosthetic weed wacker, and an ex-governor-turned eco-warrior living in a mangrove swamp and feasting on road-kill.
It seems improbable, but Hiaasen makes it all work, with just the right mix of pop culture lunacy and farcical hijinks. I hope to squeeze in another Hiaasen book before summer’s end. Any suggestions?