Read: 10 July, 2007
Jack Tagger’s career as a reported was destroyed when he criticized his new boss. He now writes the obituaries – a job he was assigned in the hopes that he would give up and quit. But Jack isn’t quite ready to give up yet. He waits for the day that someone famous dies in his territory so that he can write the obituary that would save his career. When Jimmy Stoma of the Slut Puppies dies under mysterious circumstances, Jack believes this time has come. He must fight his editor and discover the secret to Jimmy’s death, a search that leads Jack into the very bowels of the music industry.
With all this talk of once great reporters reduced to anonymity by an oppressive newspaper structure, I begin to wonder if Hiaasen isn’t verging on the autobiographical. When a theme is repeated in two or more of an author’s works, I begin to question just how fictional that theme may be. Similarly, the “baddie” characters are again killed (in similarly gruesome fashion). Now, in this case there doesn’t seem to have been much of a peaceful solution (though the characters never propose simply going to the police). Even so, a normal (non-psychopathic) individual might still feel a little guilty for what happened. Not these characters, though! So what is it about Hiaasen that compels him to write about such brutality with total lack of feeling? Finding this in one novel was unnerving. Finding it in two is downright scary.
Other than that, however, the novel was fantastic. Again, I adored the writing style and the humor. The references to Neil Young and other musicians I rightfully should not have heard of at my tender age prejudiced me in favor of the story. The jokes about modern pop music sealed the deal, so to speak.
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Read: 8 July, 2007
JoLayne Lucks has won the lottery. In a town where miracles are made of plastic Maries with water pump tears, a real miracle becomes quite the center of attention. Bodean Gazzer and Chub, two Neo-Nazis who would rather blame just about anyone but themselves for their less-than-perfect lives, also win the lottery and decide to use the money to start up a militia. When they find out that their winnings will be split, they decide to steal the other ticket. JoLayne, how has plans of her own for the money, enlists the help of Tom Krome (a once successful journalist who now only writes the “fluff news”) to track Bodean and Chub down and take back what’s rightfully hers.
I love Hiaasen’s writing style. It strikes me as very conversational (a great change from the novels I read for school!) and filled with humour that sometimes touches on over-the-top. I enjoyed most of the novel, but the end seemed to display a very questionable morality. Bodean is killed and Chub is badly injured. JoLayne, who cannot bear to be his cause of death, heals his wounds. She then proceeds to abandon him on the island where he eventually starves and is eaten by scavenger birds.
I found this to be very inconsistent behavior for someone who, just recently, had claimed not to want to cause the death of a fellow living creature. In fact, the very casualness with which Tom and JoLayne leave Chub struck me as disturbing. They seemed to see absolutely nothing wrong with the act, justifying it merely by stating that they had no way to prove that their version of the story was the true one should the police intervene – the sort of thinking a psychopath might used. A character set up to be as caring as JoLayne might at least have lost a few nights of sleep.
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