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Posted: May 30, 2021

A very entertaining but sad book

Book Review

By Derryll White

Hiaasen, Carl (2004).  Skinny Dip.

When an over-sexed and crooked marine biologist starts to come up short and noodle-like in the bedroom, the reader has a sense that something is wrong. Of course, the thug that keeps stealing fentanyl patches from sick people in a care home heightens that feeling – something is whacky in Florida!

Carl Hiaasen is a consummate and hilarious storyteller. Joey Perrone, rich and presumed dead, hooks up with recluse Mick Stranahan to drive her crooked and murderous husband crazy, thus inducing the bedroom shortfall.

‘Skinny Dip’ is another brilliant and funny Hiaasen attack on the out-of-control development forces loose in the state of Florida. Every piece of ground needs a writer like this to expose its values and defend its importance to the continued wellness of this planet.  He very clearly lays out the plight of the great natural freshwater environment called the Everglades.  This is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States.

The author charts the impacts farming is having on this natural region, dumping millions of gallons of fertilizer-laden water directly into the national park instead of into settling ponds and filtration systems. This is a very entertaining but sad book. Read Hiaasen and think about all the stupid and self-centred things we do as human beings.

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Excerpts from the novel:

FLORIDA – Practically anywhere in the upper Midwest would have been fine; Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, or even the Dakotas.  There the crimes were typically forthright and obvious, ignited by common greed, lust or alcohol.  Florida was more complicated and extreme, and nothing could be assumed.  Every scheming shitwad in America turned up here sooner or later, such were the opportunities for predation.

EVERGLADES – A breeze fluffed the saw grass and combed ripples in the dark water.  Coots tiptoed through the hyacinths and lilies, a young heron speared minnows in the shallows and a small bass went airborne to take a dragonfly.  The place was thrumming with wildlife.

DEVELOPMENT – Later, as the pilot angled northward, Joey heard her brother gag in revulsion at the sight of western Broward County, where new subdivisions were erupting like cankers in all directions; thousands upon thousands of cookie-cutter houses, jammed together so tightly that it looked like you could jump from roof to roof for miles on end.  Where there were no houses stood office parks, shopping plazas and enormous auto malls – acres and acres of Toyotas and Chryslers, cooking in the sun.  Only a slender dirt levee separated the clamorous tide of humanity from the Everglades.

– Derryll White once wrote books but now chooses to read and write about them.  When not reading he writes history for the web at www.basininstitute.org.


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