Saturday, July 31, 2010

Star Island

Carl Hiassen has a new book out, Star Island. I read and enjoyed his last two books, Nature Girl and Skinny Dip. Despite finishing those two books, I didn't review them. And although I have bought Star Island, I've barely started it and have no immediate plans to review it. Reviewing unfinished book is frowned on in some quarters and is probably a good habit to get out of. Waiting for me to finish a book and then review it will likely take you to the author's next release.

So, as much as this might be a pre-review of Star Island, it is also just a few words about Carl, the people he writes about, and some observations on books in general.

Maybe you can't, or shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but boy, does a good one help. A good cover should be able to help sell a book. Carl's 'Florida' series comes in South Beach pastels, glossy dust jackets with embossed lettering. I had a cousin who printed these kind of book covers from a business he had on Hudson Street. He made his living printing book covers, and it was quite an operation with a huge Heidelberg press.

Star Island. Two word title. Two words for Carl's name, and two small print words that tell you 'a novel.' Anyone who has recently spent some time cruising book store tables knows that non-fiction books generally have subtitles that seem to go on like chapter headings, or chapters themselves. Two examples.

The Story of Success
Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance

The departed comedian Alan King would remark that if you wanted to read about love and marriage you had to buy two books. Can you imagine what subtitles they'd have in today's publishing era? Just cruise the tables.

So,we've got simplicity with Carl, right on the cover. And the back? The usual effusive praise from cross-pollinated businesses or folks who have been over Carl's house lately? Hard to tell. But the back of Star Island has blurb praise about his prior book, Nature Girl. Five raves from media companies. Nothing from anyone about the current book. That's confidence.

And the people who inhabit the books? Carl claims that writers are attracted to "lowlifes and bottom-feeders." I'm sure this is not universally true, but he does seem to make the most of describing fictional surrogates for the real ones. You might say these people are just folks, but they are people whose reproductive glands control their thoughts. Drained of secretions, they'd have no minds at all. These aren't necessarily "my kind of people," but if Florida had OTBs, I'd probably run into them there.

I was hoping to catch Carl at his New York book signing at a Manhattan Barnes and Noble on Tuesday. Unfortunately for me my real work required more of me than I usually like to give it, and I couldn't make it.

I did however substitute it by taking in Carl's interview with Al Roker on the Today show that was held that morning. Like many, I was able to do this through the miracle of the Web. This of course was a poor substitute for hoping to be in the presence of someone who put the words "vodka, Red Bull, hydrocodone, birdseed and stool softener" in a single sentence when describing consumed ingredients. I got that far into the book. Chapter one.

Thus, I missed my chance to ask Carl if there was an antidote to that mixture, or, were we going to have to wait for FDA approval on it?

Maybe it's in the book. I'll get there.

No comments:

Post a Comment