Skinny Dip



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.


5 thoughts on “Skinny Dip

  1. Litlove, Me either — and Ben’s recommendation sounds like the next good one to read. And we are having a lovely time. Everybody is getting just what they want, which is pretty much the essence of a good vacation. W is windsurfing a lot, the boys have a huge group of children to play with and a fancy hotel a few doors down to sneak into for the gorgeous swimming pool and the small frisson of maybe getting kicked out and for me there is Cafe Paradise, all these books, and a new novel to dream up. I can’t believe it’s taken us this many years to organize a decent vacation.

    Ben — It adds a whole new dimension to my understanding of your character to discover that Carl Hiaasen is a favorite of yours. Thank you for the recommendation. I’m going to see if I can get that on Amazon and having it waiting for me when I get home so I can continue this vacation frame of mind when we get back to northern California.

  2. I also liked Double Whammy. But doing it at home is a different thing. I can do Hiassen on vacation. Easy-peasey, like eating chocolate with your eyes closed. But doing it at home never worked for me. Hiassen is one of the main reasons you’d want to go on vacation. But coming home and trying to do it there when there’s, say, Richard Yates Revolutionary Road on the books-to-read pile, or Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping, or, well . . . all that stuff waiting for you . . . ?

  3. John, I think this is right for many people. We eat differently, drink differently, dress differently on vacation. Not worse (well, maybe the drinking…), just different. A guy like Hiaasen is doing something that takes a lot of skill. And I love it that he IS the reason you go on vacation, as you say. Happy New Year, dear John.

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