I can’t think of a better book than Carl Hiaasen’s Skinny Dip to read on vacation. I remember seeing this reviewed in the New York Times a few years ago and then I forgot all about it, until I found it sitting, absolutely free for the taking, on the bookshelf in the hotel where we’re staying.
The trouble with vacation books is that they’re often so poorly written or constructed that it’s impossible to enjoy them. This one isn’t like that. It’s an amusing, beautifully put together story of a woman whose husband tries to kill her while they’re on a cruise off the coast of Florida. He’s too much of a doofus to get it right, which is good, because the rest of the book is concerned with the revenge she wreaks on him, revenge that is both funny and breathtakingly appropriate. Let’s just say this: if the person you want to get revenge on is someone who lives and dies by his reproductive organ, then the best revenge is to make it increasingly difficult for that organ to function properly. Now, this could be incredibly un-funny, but Hiaasen doesn’t make a single misstep. He manages to find redemption for a character who seems impossible to rescue, the bad are punished appropriately, the good get the things they need. Along the way, there are pythons, and deeply tanned former police officers, and police officers from the midwest, and alligator road kill, and a whole host of Everglades descriptions, some of which make you want to weep when you see the stupidity of the people who participated in the despoilation of this part of Florida.
And now, I’m on to The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, which is proving to be wonderful, but in a different way and Nothing is Quite Forgotten in Brooklyn, which is equally wonderful, but also in a different way.