Carl Hiaasen Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Carl Hiaasen is noted for creating a distinctive landscape filled with Florida’s social, political, and environmental issues and ills. His fictional world is populated by an array of bizarre cliché-flouting characters, from reporters who become reluctant investigators to ludicrously grotesque villains and environmental avengers such as a former governor and ecological fanatic turned Everglades hermit. Within his world Hiaasen creates wildly absurdist situations laced with his own particular humor while reflecting a strong environmental consciousness. His years as an investigative reporter and columnist for the Miami Herald have given him a keen insight into Florida’s ills, which he attacks in his novels. His investigative reporting has won many significant awards and finalist status for the Pulitzer Prize on two occasions, and his novels, which combine sociopolitical satire, black humor, broad slapstick, and environmental criticism, have achieved both a critical and popular following and appear in bookstores nationwide. His distinctive style, themes, and satiric wit, which he uses to call attention to corporate greed, government corruption, and the destruction of his beloved Florida wilderness, offer a black-comedy world not yet rivaled by other authors of crime and detective fiction. Like Elmore Leonard, Hiaasen has taken crime fiction into the mainstream by subverting old formulas with matters of social and environmental importance. His place in the canon of contemporary authors seems assured.

Carl Hiaasen Bibliography

(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Brannon, Julie Sloan. “The Rules Are Different Here: South Florida Noir and the Grotesque.” In Crime Fiction and Film in the Sunshine State, edited by Steve Glassman and Maurice O’Sullivan. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1997. Describes grotesquery in the characters, events, and settings of novels by Hiaasen and Charles Willeford and stresses that both writers paint south Florida as a bizarre place operating under different rules from normal society.

“Carl Hiaasen.” Current Biography Yearbook 1997, edited by Elizabeth A. Schick. New York: Wilson, 1997. Well-detailed account of relationship between the author’s career as an investigative journalist and the dominant themes of his fiction.

Grunwald, Michael. “Swamp Things.” The New Republic, November 15, 2004, 33-37. Discusses the novel Skinny Dip and its author’s environmental concerns with the south Florida ecosystem.

Hiaasen, Carl. Carl Hiaasen Official Web Site. The author’s Web site offers information on the author’s life as well as his novels, a bibliography, and interviews with Hiaasen that are of particular interest.

Horsley, Lee. Twentieth-Century Crime Fiction. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. Chapter examines the use of crime fiction as a sociopolitical critique, including the destruction of the Florida environment. Contains a discussion of Hiaasen’s Stormy Weather.

Nyberg, Ramesh. “Murder, Mayhem and Mirth: An Interview with Carl Hiaasen.” Writer’s Digest 75 (January, 1995): 38-40. Interviewer lucidly identifies Hiaasen’s use of humor, satire, and his personal value system in his works, as he draws the author out about the origin and characters of several novels.