There’s a huge problem in contemporary literature that to a certain degree, we are in the process of shedding. The problem is that once a writer has finished a book, it may be up to two years before that book can get in front of readers’ eyes. A lot can happen in that time. For writers who are working in non-fiction and in the case of Carl Hiaasen, satire, keeping up with the world is an issue. But to be honest, probably not as big an issue as you might think.
Hiaasen’s latest novel, Razor Girl, and the novel it is a sequel to, Bad Monkey (from 2013) are excellent examples of the fraught nature of publishing. You might think that as reality hurtles off a cliff into realms beyond satire, novels written say two and five years ago respectively, might have lot some edge. Perish the thought. Hiaasen is one of our most skilled satirists. His comedic writing manages to be timeless, and his characters feel real, and generally likable. He always equals the current level of absurdity, even if consensus reality and the world he creates in his novels have different ideas about where that absurdity is running rampant.
I felt lucky to get to talk to Hiaasen about Bad Monkey and Razor Girl, which comprise the first two books in what I am certain most readers will consider a series they want to see more of. In Bad Monkey, we meet Andy Yancy, who has managed to get ousted from the Miami Police and the Monroe County sheriff’s office. He’s been dumped into Health Inspector job, counting restaurant roaches. There’s a human arm, a bad monkey, a coroner love-interest, and less savory types. You’ll laugh a lot and look forward to Razor Girl, which begins with an inventive twist on the automobile accident insurance scam.
Hiaasen and I talked about the reality factor in his books, which is to say that there’s a formula for readers; if it seems too bizarre to be true, it probably came from the news. If it is believable, it’s made up. The bad news here is that the escaped, 9-pound pet rats are real. The good news in this novel is that it may cut down on your quinoa intake. (It depends on how you feel about quinoa, of course.) You will hear Carl and I talk all about Gambian Pouched Rats in both the long and short interviews.
I must add that while we did not quite get there in our conversation, there’s a bit of monsterific-lite in this novel that would not be out of place in a David Cronbenburg comedy. It’s very funny and creepy enough to feel right around Halloween. Moreover, Razor Girl and Carl Hiaasen leave the door open for sequels. This is the first straight-up sequel he’s done (characters pop up now and again, but not in the serial sense of these two novels), and that’s exciting.
Alas, the world is headed to hell in a handbasket. It’s almost as if Reality has said, “OK Hiaasen; I’ll see your Razor Girl and raise you, ‘One nation, deity of your choice.'” To a degree one might feel sorry for Reality, having to try so hard to keep up with Hiaasen. Maybe he could give Reality some advice on finding a funnier, more lighthearted and engaging tone.
So you think that Consensus makes you tough, Reality? Here’s 45 minutes of Carl Hiaasen with some lessons you need to learn!